Articles for Aspiring Authors
Your creative writing needs improvement.
You might not like to face that truth, but it is indeed a truth. I’ll go into more detail about that in a little bit but every writer out there needs improvement.
And one of the best ways to get better at creative writing is to challenge yourself by completing writing exercises.
What is Creative Writing?
Creative writing is typically fiction or poetry that uses imagination, creativity, and innovation in order to tell a story through strong written visuals with an emotional impact. It’s often seen as the opposite of journalistic or academic writing.
When it comes to writing, there are many different types. As you already know, all writing does not read in the same way.
Creative writing uses senses and emotions in order to create a strong visual in the reader’s mind whereas other forms of writing typically only leave the reader with facts and information instead of emotional intrigue.
Creative Writing Topics
If you’re looking for a few creative writing topics to dive into (which you’ll need if you’re going to use some of our top writing exercises), we have exactly what you need.
These are our top creative writing prompts all compiled for you.
Just fill out the form below and your writing prompts will be delivered promptly!
What are the Elements of Creative Writing?
In order to get better at creative writing, you have to understand the elements of what makes it great in the first place.
You can’t build a car engine without understanding how each part plays a role, right?
That’s the same case with writing.
Here are the elements that make up creative writing and why each is just as important as the other.
Examples of Creative Writing
Since creative writing covers such a wide variety of writing, we wanted to break down the different types of creative writing out there to help you make sense of it. You may know that novels are considered creative writing, but what about memoirs?
We’ve compiled a list of the different creative writing types to help you see the difference within each, even though they’re all considered creative writing.
|Fiction||Novels/Novellas/Short Stories and more. This is creative writing involving characters, themes, plots, and imagination.|
|Plays||This creative writing type is acted out on stage with actors, sets, and an audience captivated by the plot and characters.|
|Poetry||Poetry is typically prose written elegantly with distinct messages and themes.|
|Movies/TV Shows||Actors are filmed on screen, which they read from the script. This script and the overall story is creative writing.|
|Memoirs||Memoirs are nonfiction composed of a creative and intriguing telling of one's life with clear messages and themes within.|
|Songs||Often sang and played to music, this form of creative writing focuses on lyrics combined with music in order to invoke emotion from the listeners.|
9 Creative Writing Exercises to Get Better
Writing is just like any other skill. You have to work at it in order to get better.
It’s also much like other skills because the more you do it, the stronger you become in it. That’s why exercising your creative writing skills is so important.
The best authors out there, including Stephen King, recommend writing something every single day. These writing exercises will help you accomplish that and improve your talent immensely.
#1 – Describe your day with creative writing
This is one of my favorite little exercises to keep my writing sharp and in shape.
Just like with missing gym sessions, the less you write, the more of that skill you lose. Hannah Lee Kidder, a very talented author and Youtuber, gave me this writing exercise and I have used it many times.
#2 – Description Depiction
If you’re someone who struggles with writing descriptions or you just want to get better in general, this exercise will help you do just that – and quickly.
In order to improve your descriptions, you have to write them with a specific intention.
With this exercise, the goal is to write your description with the goal of showing the reader as much as you can about your character without ever mentioning them at all.
#3 – Edit your old writing
Believe it or not, editing does count as writing and can actually sharpen those creative writing skill more than you think.
It can be a little scary to pull up a story you wrote last week or even two years ago and tear it apart. But that’s exactly what I want you to do.
Check out this video of me editing my old writing in order to replace weak verbs with stronger, better ones to get a taste of what this can look like and how it can help you get better.
#4 – Voice Variations
One of my favorite parts of writing is giving unique voices to each character. I believe that’s what truly brings them to live. Their dialogue as the power to pull readers in, or push them out of the book completely.
Obviously, you want the former.
During this exercise, your focus will be to pick 4 different emotional states and write dialogue and narrative of how your character feels and interprets those feelings.
#5 – Single Senses
Creating strong visuals is one of the most powerful ways to become a great creative writer. In fact, practicing this will help you craft books that really hook readers.
This exercise’s goal is to help you develop writing the senses in ways that not only make sense, but are also imaginative and unique.
#6 – Dialogue Destruction
During this exercise, you will learn a lot about how to shape a scene using entirely dialogue.
Now, this isn’t something you’ll always do in your writing, but it’s very important to know how to move a scene forward using dialogue if you need to.
This will also help you understand how to show and not tell in creative writing.
#7 – Tell the origin story of the Tooth Fairy
This writing exercise will really help you think creatively about something a large part of the world knows about.
However, you have to think of a very unique, interesting way of presenting this common idea. The purpose of this is to help you dig deeper within your own story and plot in order to come up with the very best, most unique ideas – because that is what will stand out in your book.
#8 – Thematic Attic
This is a fun one! The idea behind this creative writing exercise is to focus on interpreting themes through story.
Since all creative writing has an underlying theme behind it, it’s really important for you to be able to accurately depict that theme throughout the story you’re telling.
Otherwise, it can get lost. Not knowing the theme can often leave readers feeling unsatisfied – and rightfully so.
#9 – Break Language Barriers
This isn’t quite what you think it is. So no, we will not be creating new languages with this exercise.
Instead, we’ll be working on using unique language to describe very common, everyday occurrences and experiences.
One of the beauties of creative writing is that you have the power to change the way someone sees the world. You can make it more appealing and special to them – if you know how.
This exercise will help you develop the skill of using a unique narrative within your story.
Turn Your Creative Writing Idea into a Novel & PUBLISH!
Now that you’re more ready than ever to produce a high quality book, it’s time to take action.
You don’t want to miss out on all he has to offer because once you watch this, you’ll be able to put these creative writing exercises to use.
What are some creative writing exercises you use to get better? Drop your thoughts in the comments below!
Picture this: your imagination is a match…and you need to light it.
There are a number of different methods of setting a match ablaze. You can swipe it on the ground, against a rough surface, use your own nail, or even light it with another match that’s already burning.
But the best (and easiest) way? Striking it against the matchbox it came in. That’s what it’s for, after all.
Creative Writing Prompts are Your Matchbox
All you need is one writing prompt to light your imaginative fire and you can burn through a book idea, formulating the plot and all with just a single prompt. You can even write a powerful short story with a small prompt!
And that’s exactly what we’re here to help you with.
You know what you want to write about: life’s happenings, a tragedy in your life, a deep memoir, magic, advanced science, realistic contemporary stories, but you just can’t figure out how to go from the genre and an inkling of a character idea to a full-blown novel plot.
While writing prompts are amazing for pushing your creative boundaries and filling you with new book ideas – along with a hope that you can actually write an incredible book – they’re only good for that.
They don’t help you write, improve your writing, market, or publish the book. Rude, I know!
But that’s why we’re here.
200+ CREATIVE WRITING PROMPTS FOR FICTION BOOK IDEAS
If you’re ready to take the plunge and finally start writing a book like you’ve always talked about, we can help you get started.
Something to keep in mind that fiction writing is largely driven by voice, style, characters, and your plot.
These are 100% original, never-before-seen writing prompts you won’t find anywhere else.
But the ones listed in this article are just a small taste of what we really have to offer.
If you want to really let your imagination run wild, download our master list of over 200 original fiction ideas and writing prompts for a number of different genres!
But if you’re ready to start right now, here are a few to set the creative wheel of your imagination in motion so you can find your writing style and master your craft.
Fantasy Writing Prompts
Fantasy is all about magic, creatures, and abilities. The possibilities with a fantasy world are nearly endless.
You can literally make up anything you want. This is why fantasy is my preferred genre to write in.
Here are some original writing prompts for you:
#1 – A character finds an odd-looking egg in the forest. When they take it home, they never could have predicted what was inside it.
#2 – This character has always had the ability to change how they looked, and so they hid their true appearance behind attractive façades. Now, their abilities aren’t working, exposing what they truly look like.
#3 – The once peaceful water dwellers have suddenly declared war on a settlement that was its only true ally. Your character has no idea why and is thrust into the war against their will.
#4 – Magic is the norm. Some excel at it, some are only okay, and others are against it completely, despite being able to use it. Your main character is the latter.
#5 – Time has always been a constant in a world where reality can be warped and stretched. Then your character, through research and hard work, discovers you can even alter time.
#6 – Your character researches untouched societies as a living. While deep in the jungle on an assignment, they accidentally allow themselves to be seen by someone from the society, a big no-no. What that person is capable of is beyond the world your character knew existed.
#7 – Your character’s world is dying. The actual earth is sick and killing all the plants and probably life as they know it.
#8 – One of your characters has magic. The other wants nothing more than to have magic. How far is that one person willing to go to make that magic theirs?
Tips for Writing with Fantasy Book Ideas:
Fantasy is a wildly popular genre. There are countless fantasy worlds out there and that means you really have to focus on being unique within your world.
Here are a few ideas to do just that:
- Create 100% unique cultures
- Avoid these worldbuilding mistakes
- Develop slang for your world based on what’s popular/trending/makes sense with the time it takes place
- Do NOT use common phrases like “train of thought” if trains don’t exist in your world
- Use unique names
- Don’t forget about diversity!
- Opt for an unexpected and different journey and outcome (many fantasy novels follow a similar formula)
- Write what you want to read!
- Schedule your writing time and follow those deadlines if you really want to finish
Sci-Fi Writing Prompts
Are you one who loves advanced technology, diseases, and even space travel? If so, science fiction writing is right up your alley.
When it comes to creating new technologies and advanced societies, you really have to think outside the box.
Here are some sci-fi writing prompts to help you do that.
#1 – Your main character wakes up in a space pod alone…next to a ship so massive it’s actually carrying a planet beneath it. Your character has no memory from before they wake.
#2 – Your character lives in a world where every single person’s DNA is carefully genetically designed for something to help the community. Your main character despises what they were created for. This has never happened before.
#3 – Your character lives on a planet other than Earth. In fact, they don’t even know Earth exists. Well, they didn’t until some sort of advanced, technical probe crash-landed in their settlement, exposing the fact that they’re not alone. Now they have to decide what’s best for their settlement.
#4 – The world used to be plagued with war and famine and inhumanity. But after years and years of developing a technical system that is the center of and controls everything, it’s almost completely peaceful. Your character is the engineer keeping the system running and when they uncover how it works, they contemplate abandoning everything they know.
#5 – The newest advancement in virtual reality adds physical sense. Now your characters can even hook up with people through your phone, all while staying at home. But when a glitch alters the mechanisms, what was once pleasure becomes pain and the user gets trapped in a VR state.
#6 – They’ve been keeping your character alive for over 300 years because of a secret they know. When someone new finally learns the truth, reality becomes…confusing. Now, with only a short adulthood left to live, your character must ensure nobody else learns of this secret. But…well, news spreads fast.
#7 – They didn’t mean to, but in an attempt to build a time traveling machine, your character actually discovered alternate universes – and then accidentally trapped themselves there. Oh, and this alternate universe hasn’t discovered electricity yet.
#8 – Your character lives in an ancient society. When a shiny, unnatural looking contraption touches down and creatures emerge, everything they once knew changes.
Tips for Writing with Sci-Fi Book Ideas:
This genre is another very popular one, and for good reason. You can imagine a realistic, yet very different future than what we currently have.
But you also want to make sure to remember a few of these guidelines when creating your science fiction world:
- Decide if the story will take place in this world or a completely unique one
- Create realistic advanced technology that your characters would actually use
- Avoid modern-day slang unless the story takes place here
- Create your own slang. A great example of this is in Jenna Moreci’s sci-fi novel, EVE: The Awakening pictured below)
“Dynamic” is the slang the author created in this instance. It fits with the sci-fi world and further creates a sense of realism and it pulls the reader deeper into the world.
Dystopian Writing Prompts
As this genre gains more and more popularity, you may find yourself wondering what a certain post-apocalyptic world might look like.
Why not write about it?
Here are some creative writing prompts to help you form a dystopian society anyone will want to read about.
#1 – A character finds an odd-looking egg in the forest. When they take it home, they never could have predicted what was inside it.
#2 – Natural farming doesn’t exist anymore. Due to climate change, all food has to be manufactured in bulk and distributed. There is no flavor and is the same every day. Your character, who has spent their entire life in this world, takes a trip to the mountains far away from their home. There, they discover real plants, and on them, berries.
#3 – Nature extremists take over the government, stopping at nothing to ensure all man-made harm on the planet is eradicated. Your character ends up in their clutches, forced to do their bidding.
#4 – Due to climate change, wildfires have engulfed the large majority of living land. Your character is one of many attempting to board a ship set for a new in-ocean settlement. The problem? That settlement doesn’t actually exist.
#5 – After a devastating illness that rocked only the wildlife population over 200 years ago, a scientist created a virus that strengthens animal’s immune systems with the purpose of creating balance and stabilizing the wildlife population once again. The problem is that it worked too well and the wildlife has exceeded (and reduced) the world’s population
#6 – After a devastating storm that encompassed the entire world, the population has thinned significantly and your character, who lost all of their family but their youngest sibling, has to go up against the new “government” with a group of allies as they attempt to gain control over the living population of the world – in the worst way.
#7 – Over the course of a few hundred years, cases of depression, anxiety, and other mental illnesses caused the death and destruction of generations. Then an airborne substance was created to balance all levels of each person so they’re created 100% equal in every way. Turns out, your character is immune to the substance.
#8 – The third World War is done and over with for many years now. It was the downfall of the world’s economic system. Now your main character must navigate a world where governments no longer exist, money is useless, and survival is the only objective. Oh, and they have a debilitating medical condition to look after, too.
Tips for Writing with Dystopian Book Ideas:
Dystopian novels are one of the biggest trends sweeping the literary world. With books like The Handmaid’s Tale stirring more post-apocalyptic stories, it’s easy to get stuck in the same mindset as many other dystopian novelists.
Here are a few things to keep in mind if you want to write dystopian:
- Think way outside of the box
- Use elements from your story’s past to form their present
- Paint a very clear picture of everyday life for your character from the very first page
- Get creative with the laws, culture, and customs
- Don’t just “go with the flow”: The Handmaid’s Tale is so popular largely due to the fact that it’s unique. Not many people would have thought of a world that was overrun by a religion – and that’s what makes it so tantalizing; it’s unexpected.
Contemporary Writing Prompts
Some people don’t necessarily want to escape from this world. In fact, they just want to escape from their own life for a little bit but prefer to read something realistic, something they can relate to.
Contemporary writing is all about forming connections with readers.
Here’s who you can do just that with these creative writing prompts for your contemporary world.
#1 – Your character has done everything they’re told. They just graduated high school and are off to a very good college to get their degree in something reliable. But when they get there, they realize there’s a whole world of opportunity they never knew existed. Now they have to maintain the façade of going to college even though they decided to pursue a different endeavor.
#2 – Your character answers the door to nothing but an intricate envelope on the ground; an invitation. After attending the secret underground event, they become a part of the biggest activist group out there…and nobody even knows who they are.
#3 – While on a hike with friends, your main character discovers a small tower buried beneath the ground. After some digging, they realize it’s filled with scrolls they can hardly make out. What they contain will change your character’s view of life forever.
#4 – Your main character has been living a very sheltered, very dangerous life. After the death of their overbearing father, they’re thrust into the real world – only to realize just how different their life really is from those around them.
#5 – Your main character gets called out of school/work by someone they don’t know for something they are clueless about. But for some reason, the person addressing them thinks they already know everything about it.
#6 – As an artist, your main character has it well. But when everything they’ve worked for is burned in a tragic fire, they have to start all over with nothing to their name and a roommate determined to hold them back.
#7 – Life for your main character has never been easy. After venturing in and out of foster homes, they’re finally an adult and on their own. When their birth mother reaches out to reconnect, they never could’ve predicted what’s kept her away for so long. Now your character has to decide between getting involved with their real mother or cutting ties forever.
#8 – Death is a natural part of life. Your main character has been feared it or been affected by it. But when their best friend goes missing and their body shows up in front of their house, your character makes it their mission to find out who’s responsible – even if it means breaking the law…a lot of laws.
Tips for Writing with Contemporary Book Ideas:
I personally believe contemporary can be one of the hardest genres to write because you have the least wiggle room when it comes to creativity.
Everything has to be realistic in today’s society.
- “Realistic dialogue is important. All the characters should sound different from one another, their vernacular should make sense for their background, and the writer should read it out loud.”
- “Tiny details are hella dope in descriptions. It should be so specific and vivid that when the reader finishes the story, they feel like they’ve lost a bit of reality.”
- “Imagining characters complexly is also important. Work on understanding real people. If you understand people and why they do what they do, you can understand characters and what they do”
- Create a conflict many can relate to or sympathize with
- Spend a lot of time on the character arc as many contemporary novels are primarily character-driven
Contemporary Writing Exercise From Hannah Lee Kidder: Sit in public and pick a random person, then write a completely made up story on them.
Romance Writing Prompts
Romance is the most popular book genre out there right now. People love reading about love!
But that doesn’t mean you can think of any love story and get to work.
We’ve got some strong writing prompts that can kickstart a love story worth spending hours reading.
#1 –Your character has gone through life believing that love is a choice. Their decision? To never get involved because love can only lead to pain and hardship. But after an argument with a stranger, their view of love, and life itself, is changed.
#2 – Marriage is just what happens when you’ve been with someone forever. For your main character, that seems obvious. But when they’re months away from their wedding and an old friend barges into their life unannounced, a wedding seems like the furthest thing from their desires.
#3 – Your main character is up for a big promotion within their company. They’ve put everything on hold for it – including their love life. But when an outsider is hired instead, they lose it, focusing all their energy on bringing this newcomer down. They just didn’t think about the fact that they might end up liking them.
#4 – Your main character and their significant other have been together since childhood. After a war between their people rips them away from each other, they’ll have to fight, manipulate, and fool in order to get each other back.
#5 – A package is mailed to your main character. It’s filled with what seems like hundreds of letters all to a single person. Memories and confessions of love are penned within those letters. Your main character feels drawn to the person on the other end and sets out to find them – and the letter’s true destination.
#6 – Arranged marriages are the standard. In fact, nobody marries for love. Love doesn’t even exist in your character’s world. But when they’re drawn to someone who’s already spoken for, they start to question everything they know about love.
#7 – Your main character lives in a society of slavery. If you’re not born in a certain family, you’re shipped off and sold. When your character is sold for the 8th time in their short 20 years, then end up at one of the top houses – and become a personal servant to the next leader of their settlement. Soon, they’re enthralled in a romance that could get them both killed…because he’s already promised to another…a very dangerous other.
#8 – Cheating is wrong. Your character’s society puts emphasis on loyalty above anything else. In fact, cheating and betrayal of any kind in any relationship are punishable by life in prison (and even death in extreme cases). So why does something that’s been illegal for as long as they can remember feel so right when your character meets someone new? Avoiding jail just became the most difficult part of your character’s life.
Tips for Writing with Romance Book Ideas:
Even though romance is an extremely popular genre doesn’t mean you can be lazy when it comes to the actual romance and creative writing prompts isn’t always enough to help you develop a full-blown romance.
People read romance to be invested, to feel something real.
That’s why you have to remember these tips when writing romance in your novels:
- NEVER romanticize abuse as “love” (AKA, a jealous boyfriend should never be praised for “loving your character more” because this is harmful to readers)
- Create real chemistry by giving your characters qualities that would actually foster a connection
- Avoid “insta-love” by giving your characters time to bond and get to know each other
- Look out for serious romance cliches and overused plot lines like love triangles, forbidden romances (these can be great if done uniquely!), and crazy exes
- Continuously up the stakes whenever the reader gets comfortable with the relationship
Horror/Thriller Writing Prompts
Because being terrified is entertaining to some people, horror and thriller books exist and are quite popular!
The great thing about this genre is that you can get really creative and really dark.
If you gravitate toward writing terrifying, anxiety-inducing stories, here are some creative writing prompts to get the twisted part of your mind moving:
#1 – Your main character is home alone, just like most nights. This time, however, a new neighbor pays them a visit. And it wasn’t for the last time.
#2 – Eight murders have taken place in your character’s town in the past 8 weeks. Once a week, on the same day, at the same time. When your character gets abducted after being out past the town’s new curfew, they have only 48 hours to discover why this is happening and how to get free…all while being tortured by the murderer.
#3 – It’s a day of celebration in your character’s hometown! A 100-year-old time capsule is about to be opened, so of course they go, just like most of the town. When a deceased human hand with a sinister note attached to it is the only thing in the capsule, questions start to buzz. The first being, who is the person who wrote the note? Oddly enough, the note is written in your main character’s handwriting…with their signature…dated 82 years before they were even born.
#4 – Your main character suffers from a condition that gives them periodic blackouts for seemingly no reason. The only thing they can seem to remember from before each blackout is a bike. A red bike with a white basket and muddy tires. One day, they see that very bike leaning up against their house but this time, they don’t blackout.
#5 – Odd and unexplainable events are said to happen in a certain seaside town. Your main character takes it upon themselves to visit in an effort to see just how accurate the sightings are. What they find is beyond anything they imagined. But now they can’t seem to escape the town.
#6 – Your main character and a couple friends take a boat trip to a tiny, vacant, off-limits island for a night of celebration. When the sun goes down, they realize just how occupied the island actually is…and there’s a reason it’s off-limits.
#7 – Your main character is in therapy because whenever they close their eyes at night, they see (very vividly) someone’s tragic death. Some say it’s just their twisted imagination, their new therapist thinks it is something much, much different…and dangerous.
#8 – Your main character gets into an accident. While they make a seemingly full recovery, something has just been off inside their head since the crash. When they wake up next to a mutilated body in an unrecognizable place, they start to worry.
Tips for Writing with Horror and Thriller Book Ideas:
Scaring people so much so that they sweat while simply reading is a difficult task. You really have to focus on the structure of your writing in order to create that reaction.
Here are a few things to remember if you write horror and thriller:
- Building anticipation will be your #1 focus
- Readers need to feel surprised and scared so dig deep and get twisted
- Plot twists are a must; never let your characters or readers see what’s coming
- Continuously up the stakes
- Focus on building deep sympathy for your character from the very beginning. This will make the stakes seem even higher and increase tension, just as Stephen King does in his infamous novel, IT, pictured below.
Mystery Writing Prompts
Human curiosity is what makes this genre so incredibly popular. We always want to figure out what happened. Mystery books are natural page-turners because we just aren’t satisfied until we find out what happened.
But that can be difficult to create from nothing.
Here are some great mystery creative writing prompts to get your mind spinning in unknown directions.
#1 – Your character is 16 and just learned they were the last person to see their crush the night they were murdered. But when they come forward with these details, they become the new main suspect. They’re determined to solve their crushes murder or risk going to jail for something they didn’t do.
#2 – Recently, there’s been a number of abandoned cars scattered throughout the city. Nobody knows where they’re coming from and there’s not a single personal item in them. That is, until one is discovered with a freshly removed human scalp on the dashboard.
#3 – For the past month, your character has received a number of disturbing and detailed drawings in their mailbox. After chalking it up to immature kid stunts, they try to forget about it. But when the drawings come to life in brutal, horrific ways, they’re the only person who knows of the drawings and therefore, knows what one will come next.
#4 – Your character gets a DNA test for fun – just to see where they really come from. After becoming obsessed with one little detail, they soon discover a number of their ancestors from all over the world were once located in a single, unpopulated place; a gathering of sorts.
#5 – Your character’s spouse nearly falls through the door, beaten nearly to requiring hospitalization. When an unknown but distinct brand marking is discovered between their shoulder blades, your character has to find out who they are and why they did it.
#6 – A single member of each noble family has been murdered every week for the past two months. Your character is of a very noble household and can barely sleep each night. So they decide to find out who is responsible.
#7 – Your character’s religion has a talisman as old as the religion itself. After it goes missing, all fingers point to the chief’s oldest child of 19 years, engaged to the healer’s oldest child. But they never could’ve done it. They were (romantically involved) with your main character when the theft occurred.
#8 – Your main character wakes up every morning feeling as though they didn’t get more than a couple hours of sleep. After sleep studies, medications, and trying everything available, nothing seems to work. They decide to videotape a night of sleep to determine if maybe they’re sleepwalking. Turns out, they are. Except they seem completely conscious. In fact, in the video, they approach the camera, smirk, and walk away with a wave before disappearing for nearly the entire night.
Tips for Writing with Mystery Book Ideas:
Mystery is a very difficult genre to write. You have to ensure that you don’t give away too much information so the readers don’t figure it out.
These are some of our tips for writing mystery books:
- Make readers think they know what will happen by planting false foreshadowing along with real hints
- Make the antagonist very likable
- Juxtapose tense scenes with mellow ones to increase tension
- Keep the story moving forward always
NON-FICTION WRITING PROMPTS FOR BOOK IDEAS
I bet I know you.
You’re the type of person who has dreamt of writing a book for however many years, only held back by the lack of ideas – or good ideas, rather.
Or maybe you’re the type who has tons of ideas but aren’t sure if they’re worth pursuing.
It’s hard. I get it. A book is a big commitment and one you might actually want to go through with. But without having a clear idea of what to write about, that dream can seem too far out of reach.
But I’m telling you, it’s not.
In fact, using writing prompts can help you free your mind from its current constraints so you can explore ideas you might not have otherwise thought of yourself – in addition to a number of other benefits.
If you know what you really want already, then this list of over 200 nonfiction writing prompts is ready for YOU!
Nonfiction Writing Prompts for Good Book Ideas
It’s one thing to use a writing prompt, it’s another to ensure that idea is actually a good one. We put together a list of tried-and-true writing prompts that can help you understand what’s most important to you and what you should pursue.
While reading these, note which ones cause you to pause and think – if only for a moment longer than the rest.
Those are the ideas to ponder and create a mind map for.
Here are a few writing prompts for a number of different broader categories that have proven to be prosperous.
Writing Prompts about Morals and Values
This is one of the top book ideas right now. Writing about your personal beliefs, how you came to them, and how they steer your life is something almost everyone can relate to.
And in a time where morality is being questioned time and time again by the media, it’s the best time to write on this topic.
Here are some writing prompts to get you thinking about how you can take this idea a step further.
- Write about a time when you were wrong and didn’t realize it for maybe years.
- Write about morals and how one discovers what truly matters to them.
- Write about the biggest value in your life.
- Write about the biggest problems in the world and how it impacts us every day.
- Write about problems in the world nobody is paying attention to.
- Write about a time your morals were compromised and how it affected your life.
- Write about a time your values were challenged and you had to face it.
- Write about the difference between a value and a moral.
- Write about societal values that actually negatively impact our lives.
- Write about morals that have inadvertently negative impacts.
Tips for Expanding on these Writing Prompts:
- Be honest but don’t force your ideas on someone else
- Use research and facts to back up your statements
- Give real-life accounts of your experiences
- Avoid adopting a “know-it-all” voice
Writing Prompts about Health and Wellness
This is another book topic that has seen a rise in sales and engagement over the past few years. Society is starting to focus on health and well-being more so than many other important life ventures and now is the time to write about it!
These are some great wellness writing prompts to get your mind moving in the right direction.
- Write about your struggle with an addiction of some kind and how you overcame it.
- Write about your journey to become healthy.
- Write about what being healthy inside and out means to you.
- Write about how others can overcome unhealthy habits.
- Write about the importance of mental health and wellness.
- Write about how to form healthy habits.
- Write about how to find the best exercise type for your needs.
- Write about the idea of self-care and what it means to you.
- Write about how to find health through personal reflection.
- Write about the technicalities of being “healthy.”
Tips for Expanding on these Writing Prompts:
- Always use facts and research with something as sensitive as health
- Talk about what has worked for you personally and why
- Feature advice from experts in the field
- Include actionable steps others can learn from
Writing Prompts about Love, Sex, and Relationships
This can be a tricky topic to write about because love is different for everyone.
Each relationship has different needs and trying to tell someone what their relationship needs can often cause issues if it’s not actually what their specific relationship can benefit from.
That being said, keeping your message broad enough to impact a lot of people while also hitting specific key points can make it easier.
These are writing prompts all about relationships and what they mean to you.
- Tell a story about how you see love.
- Write about sex and its importance in a relationship.
- Write about how to enjoy sex in every phase of life.
- Write about your idea of a successful relationship.
- Write about what it really takes to have a successful relationship.
- Write about how your friendships play a part in your relationships.
- Write about how self-doubt can affect your search for love.
- Write about how to love someone else in a way they need.
- Write about how to find what you truly enjoy in bed.
- Write about becoming open-minded with sex.
Tips for Expanding on these Writing Prompts:
- Never assume every single person loves and wants love the same way
- Tell personal, real-life stories to build relatability
- Keep your advice open-ended and always encourage communication
Writing Prompts about Childhood and Family
We all had a childhood and we all have a family – even if we’ve decided to adopt friends to be a part of our family.
That means everyone can relate to being a child and having a family.
That being said, it’s hard to decide on which direction you can take when writing about your childhood or family.
These are some writing prompts to help you pinpoint an angle.
- Write to your parents about all they’ve taught you about life, love, and happiness.
- Write to your family about what they mean to you.
- Write about parenthood and how it’s changed you.
- Write about your parents and what they taught you.
- Write about what your parents didn’t teach you and how it affected your life.
- Write about how not having parents impacted your life.
- Write about your childhood and how it shaped you.
- Write about what the definition of family truly means to you.
- Write about finding family in the least expected places.
- Write about discovering who you are within your family.
Tips for Expanding on these Writing Prompts:
- Family can be a sensitive subject so avoid hard “facts” about “all” families
- Make sure to include details about differences
- Tell stories others can easily relate to at the beginning
Writing Prompts about Happiness
Happiness is very subjective. We all have very different ideas about what true happiness is and how it comes about.
What you have to remember, though, is that everybody wants to be happy.
That means you have a very large audience ready to absorb your expertise and these writing prompts can help you identify what to write about.
- Write about the idea of wants versus needs in life.
- Write about work and finding happiness in your career.
- Write about not being happy in your career and how to conquer it.
- Write about finding success in your career.
- Write about finding success in every aspect of your life.
- Write about building a successful love life, family life, and career.
- Write about balancing a career and family life.
- Write about being open-minded in life.
- Write about what rewards you can reap from being kind.
- Write about what you can gain from being open-minded in every aspect of life.
Tips for Expanding on these Writing Prompts:
- Remember that your happiness is not what makes everyone else happy
- Focus on helping others find what makes them happy
- Talk about times you were unhappy frequently to drive the point home
Writing Prompts about Self-Esteem and Confidence
No matter who you are, you’ll experience moments of self-doubt and a lack of confidence.
Yes, even Beyonce has felt down about herself occasionally (though probably not often!).
The point is, writing about a lack of self-esteem and how to gain it is something everyone has experienced and therefore, everyone can relate to.
These writing prompts will help you pinpoint a specific angle to take when helping others find confidence.
- Write about accepting who you truly are and how it can change your life.
- Write about how to ignore societal expectations when they clash with who you are.
- Write about how to change your overall outlook to be more positive.
- Write about what it’s like to go from disliking yourself to truly loving yourself.
- Write about what it truly means to have complete confidence in yourself.
- Write about how to conquer inner demons in order to love yourself.
- Write about your journey to accepting your flaws and seeing them as strengths.
- Write about daily habits that will lead to overall confidence.
- Write about how bettering your health can increase the way you view yourself.
- Write about how physical appearance actually has little to do with confidence.
Tips for Expanding on these Writing Prompts:
- Be honest, real, and raw when writing about your experiences
- Offer different solutions even if they didn’t work for you personally
- Interview a psychology expert in order to further the book’s credibility
Writing Prompts about Faith
Faith is a very personal journey for people. Whether you’ve been a lifelong believer or have recently stumbled into something that has changed your life, others have been there.
And they’ll want to read about it.
These are some of the topics you can focus on when writing about your faith.
- Write about your faith and how you discovered its meaning.
- Write about how your faith changed your life.
- Write about how you learned to love yourself through your faith.
- Write about your journey from not having any faith to where you are now.
- Write a message to anybody who doesn’t think they have something to believe in.
- Write a book to the person who helped you discover your faith.
- Write about how your faith shapes your family.
- Write about overcoming questioning your faith.
- Write about the unexpected realities of having strong faith.
- Write about how your faith can steer your career and life.
Tips for Expanding on these Writing Prompts:
- This is a great time to be open and specific about your beliefs
- Avoid shaming others in an attempt to get your message across
- Tell deeply personal stories so others can relate
Writing Prompts about Personal Journeys
Everyone has a personal journey. No matter what you’ve been through, there is a lesson hidden within it.
You can use these writing prompts to not only discover more about yourself, but perhaps light the way for others to see and understand as well.
- Write about a moment in your life that changed the way you saw the world.
- Don’t censor yourself and write about what you believe the meaning of life is.
- Write about the biggest struggle you’ve faced in life.
- Write about your journey to finding yourself and all you’ve learned.
- Write about life lessons you believe everyone should learn.
- Write about how you got to where you are in life and where you’ll go from here.
- Write about a tragedy you, unfortunately, lived through and how it has shaped you.
- Write about an internal struggle of yours and how you were able to solve it.
- Write about your pet/s and what they mean to you.
- Write about how you were able to accomplish so much by a young age.
Tips for Expanding on these Writing Prompts:
- Don’t censor yourself
- Talk to a therapist or psychologist to better understand your own journey
- Bring your real-life experiences into play
Use These Writing Prompts to Start Your Book!
WHAT TO DO NEXT IF YOU’RE SERIOUS
Having the book idea isn’t all it takes to write a great book. You need the ins and outs of the process, how to start your outline, and even what to do in order to take this idea to a finished, published product.
Here’s what you can do right now to get started!
#1 – Download your FREE master list of writing prompts
We have two lists for you. Each is a list of over 200 unique writing prompts. You’ll recognize a few on the list from this blog post but many more you have not seen.
No matter which genre you want to write in or if you write fiction or nonfiction, these creative writing prompts can help you develop a book idea that can turn into a captivating, intriguing story.
#2 – Sign up for your FREE training
Now that you have the book ideas, you just need some training to take you a step further.
You don’t want to miss out on all he has to offer because once you watch this, you’ll be able to put these creative writing prompts to use.
#3 – Get started on your mindmap!
This will help you get started with the brainstorming process and before you know it, you’ll have a fully completed outline that’s ready for you to start writing!
Writing prompts can be very powerful ways to start a novel! How did you come up with your book idea and how much has it changed or grown from its conception?
Strong verbs are essential for great writing.
Not only do you need to know HOW to use powerful verbs, but having a strong verbs list at your disposal is invaluable. We’ll cover both for you.
I used to think writing a book was easy.
And in all honesty, writing has never been the most difficult thing in the world for me but when it comes to writing stories and crafting my writing in a way that compels others and pulls them in deeply, it’s been an uphill battle – before I discovered using strong verbs, that is.
I never struggled with putting my thoughts on paper or even coming up with the ideas.
My biggest hurdle was bringing the emotion I was trying to convey to life.
And as I delved deeper into the literary world, I quickly realized that using strong verbs is a must if you want to create something that leaves a lasting impact.
What is a strong verb?
Thanks to every English class growing up, you know a verb is a word used to describe an action, state, or occurrence.
But what’s the deal with strong verbs? It’s not like they can hit the gym and bulk up, right?
A strong verb is a better and more descriptive version of a basic verb that creates a stronger visual and can help create a mood (or vibe) for the scene.
So although you can use the basic verb and still tell the same story, you will create a deeper impact within the reader if you use a strong verb in its place.
Strong verbs only help your writing
I’ll be real with you here. Using strong verbs will definitely make your writing more intriguing and will increase the chances of someone buying (and loving!) your book.
BUT, they won’t help you know how to publish a book that sells.
And what’s the point of having incredible writing if you can’t publish it in a way that allows for the world to see it?
Well, that’s where we come in. No matter how great your book is, you still need to know how to put it all together, market it, and then self-publish in a way that generates sales.
If you want to get started on this, check out Chandler Bolt’s Free Webinar Training where he breaks down exactly what you need to go from blank page to published author in 90 days…or even less!
Save your spot and sign up because you don’t want to miss out on the start of your publishing dream!
Strong verbs VS weak verbs
What’s the real difference here? How can you tell the difference between a strong verb and a weak one?
Since you can’t exactly ask words to flex, you need another system to determine if your verbs are weak or not.
Here’s how we define strong verbs vs weak verbs:
Weak verbs are the “basic” forms of a specific action, like “walked” or “ran.”
Strong verbs are a specified form of a broader action, like “stomped” or “bolted.”
So the main thing you need to remember when it comes to strong verbs vs weak verbs is how specific it is.
How to use strong verbs in writing
Littering your writing with strong verbs won’t necessarily make it any better. In fact, if you overdo it, those verbs will have the opposite effect.
Instead of making your writing stronger, it can bring it down to an amateur level.
That being said, I created the video below in order to help you understand how to use strong verbs in your writing the right way.
Why use strong verbs for writing
Because your writing will be better overall. One of the best ways you can immediately make our writing stronger is by going through and crossing out each weak verb and replacing it with a better one.
Here’s how your writing will improve when you choose to use strong verbs.
#1 – Stronger visuals
One of the most important parts of any book is that your readers can get a precise visual. If they’re going through the chapters not fully picturing what’s happening, they won’t be fully invested.
And readers who aren’t invested don’t become fans. And they don’t leave reviews. And they don’t buy any other books you publish.
Strong verbs take a basic sentence and form a very specific image in the reader’s mind. Doing this throughout the entirety of your book will leave your readers feeling as if they just stepped out of an entirely different world.
And that’s exactly what you want.
Take these strong verb descriptions for example:
- She walked into the room, her cape trailing after her.
- She charged into the room, her cape billowing after her.
- She strutted into the room, her cape flowing after her.
Each of these sentences is extremely similar in what they tell you; a girl with a cape entered a room.
But changing the verbs from “walked” to “charged” to “strutted” alters the way in which she entered.
It tells you the how.
And knowing how an action takes place sets up far more than just the image for the reader. It tells them the mood the character’s in, increases suspense in some cases, and even creates anticipation for what’s to follow.
#2 – More impactful emotions
The goal of your book (and any book, really) is to make your reader feel something. You want to stir emotions in them.
That’s why they read books. That, and they want to be transported to a different world, which strong verbs are also used for.
But one of the main reasons to use strong verbs in writing is to create a more emotional impact.
When you want to create a strong reaction in your reader, no matter what type of reaction that is, you need to use strong verbs.
Here’s an example of creating more anxiety or anticipation in your readers:
- My heart was beating so fast I could hear it.
- My heart crashed against my ribs, echoing in my head.
Which sentence gives you a clearer picture of the anxiety that must be felt?
The second, right.
Because replacing “was beating fast” with “crashed against my ribs,” shows you just how hard my heart felt. And that’s the difference between a weak verb and a strong one.
#3 – Helps you show, not tell
By now you know just how important showing versus telling is in writing. And one powerful way to show more and tell less is to use strong verbs.
It forces you to think more about the visual you’re trying to show the reader instead of just telling them what happened.
Because showing creates a stronger emotional connection between the reader and your book, replacing weak verbs with more powerful ones will hook your readers.
For those of you who struggle with showing and not telling, focusing on using better verbs will help tremendously.
#4 – They reduce weak adverbs
When you’re writing, you may have a tendency to write sentences like, “I gripped the steering wheel firmly.” While this doesn’t look like a terrible sentence, it also doesn’t convey a very strong visual.
Whenever you have an adverb, you should replace it with a stronger verb. That’s all an adverb is. It gives your weak verb a boost but it doesn’t actually make your sentence any stronger.
Instead, replace “gripped firmly” with a powerful verb like “clenched” or “squeezed.”
“I clenched the steering wheel” is a much stronger sentence that gives a clearer visual.
Go through your writing and pick out some adverbs to replace. Your writing will be better because of it.
#5 – They make for more concise writing
Have you ever picked up a book that looked decent enough and even had an awesome title only to start reading and be turned off by how wordy and jumbled it is?
Strong verbs prevent this.
When you replace weak verbs and adverbs with a single stronger verb, you get rid of the excess writing that can make reading harder.
It also saves you a ton of time cutting words during the editing phase.
Because you’re using one word to create a strong visual, you won’t have to write more trying to describe how it looks to you. That strong verb does the job for you.
This also allows for easier, more fluid writing and reading.
Strong action verbs for better writing
I won’t lie. One of the most frustrating things to read is a book that lacks strong verbs in scenes that are meant to be full of action.
You’ll find this most often in fiction, but nonfiction books can be just as (if not more!) guilty of this. When you have a story that should leave the reader’s heart pounding but it doesn’t even raise their eyebrows, you have to do some digging to improve.
Here’s just a taste of how you can take your writing from “meh” to “wow!”
What to do Next
It’s not enough to just know what strong verbs are and how to use them. You actually have to put these tips to use in your own book and implement what you’ve learned.
Here’s what you can do right now to improve your writing and your book!
#1 – Watch our instructional editing video
Sometimes it’s hard to take what you’ve learned and actually implement it in your own writing. How do you know which words to replace and which are already good?
I put together a video teaching you how to edit your own writing when replacing basic verbs with stronger, better ones.
Make sure to check it out and even comment which part of the video was most helpful to you!
#2 – Create your own verb list!
Editing is made so much easier and faster when you don’t have to constantly look up words to replace your weak verbs.
And you know what? It’s something you can easily do in a short amount of time.
That’s right. We suggest putting together a list of strong verbs and which weak verbs they’re great for replacing. All you need to do is find the weak verb you want to replace and choose a more powerful word from your list that fits the mood you’re trying to convey.
|Weak Verb Example||Strong Verb Replacements|
#3 – Attend your FREE training
All of this advice is relatively useless without a plan for finishing, marketing, and self-publishing your book.
Make sure to sign up for your Free Webinar Training because publishing a book without help from someone who’s done it before (and became a 6-time bestseller) isn’t easy.
Chandler walks you through everything you need to get started and go from blank page to published author in 90 days…or even less if you already have a headstart with your writing.
Do you use strong verbs? What’s your #1 question regarding strong verbs and using them in your writing?
Writing a book requires something major.
And we know which writing software is best for you – and more importantly, why it matters.
With the best writing tools, you can write faster and more effectively. You’ll be more focused, with fewer distractions, and you can actually learn a thing or two from some of them – like Grammarly.
And just as importantly, you’ll have an easier time keeping your outline, notes, and even those writing exercises organized.
But even if you have all the best writing prompts and an imagination that won’t quit, you can’t do either without the right book writing software.
You’ll have to make some choices.
Nowadays, authors have so many options when looking for the best book writing software.
These are 13 of the best book writing software programs – both free and those that’ll justifiably cost you – so you can up your author game:
- Microsoft Word – Word Processor, $79.99
- Scrivener – Word Processor, $45
- Pages – Word Processor, $28
- Freedom – Productivity Software, $2.42/month
- Google Docs – Online Word Processor, Free
- Evernote – Note-Taking Software, Free
- FocusWriter – Word Processor, Free
- FastPencil – Word Processor, Free
- yWriter – Word Processor, Free
- Hemingway App – Style & Grammar Checker, Free
- Dropbox – Document sharing platform, Free (more for additional storage)
- Open Office – Word Processor, Free
Let’s get started by comparing the 3 book writing software “giants,” and then I’ll share some less well-known tools that might help improve your writing process even more.
Which book writing software features are right for you?
I’m not trying to sell you on any particular book writing software in this article. Instead, my goal is to give you an idea of what’s out there so you can weigh the options for yourself.
Who knows—you may even discover a brand-new writing and publishing tool you absolutely love.
In the end, the truth is that there are many great writing tools out there. It isn’t really a question of which tool is BEST. What it comes down to is: which tool works best with YOUR unique writing process?
The Top 3 Book Writing Software Programs
Writers everywhere flock to these specific tools and claim them to be the best book writing software for them. We’ll break down each so you can decide for yourself if their features are the best fit.
#1 – Microsoft Word
Before any other writing tools came along, Microsoft Word was the only option available. Everyone used it.
Today, even though there are many other word processors out there, Word is still the most widely used book writing software in the U.S. Millions of people continue to use it for their writing needs.
And it’s easy to see why. Word has a lot going for it!
It’s been around a long time. It’s trusted, reliable, and gets the job done well.
It also provides a relatively distraction-free writing experience; much better than working on Google Docs in your browser, for example, where you’re only an errant mouse-click away from the entire internet.
If you just need to wake up in the morning and meet your word-count goals by keeping your head down and getting those words pounded out onto the page, then Word is an obvious choice of book writing software. No fuss, no muss. It’s about as simple as it gets.
Word also offers some simple organization.
Using headers, you can organize your book into chapters—and then you can navigate through them quickly using the Navigation pane:
You can also create your own free book writing template using Word. And if you start writing your book in Word and don’t begin with the correct formatting, it’s pretty easy to clean up your formatting to make it “book ready” with a few simple steps.
If you’re a Word user and you’ve got your own system in place for writing books, then perhaps you need to look no further.
But as a writing tool, Word does have some downsides.
For starters, it doesn’t always play well with Macs. If you use a Mac, then Word might cause you a lot of frustration with crashes and formatting.
Thankfully, Apple offers a comparable program called Pages, that we reviewed below for you.
Word is also pretty vanilla. That’s part of its appeal, sure, but it also means Word lacks some of the more advanced features you get with other programs like Scrivener and Google Docs.
For example, Scrivener offers more advanced outlining functionality. And Google Docs makes it easier to share and collaborate on your files.
All in all, Word is a solid contender for best book writing software. But there are many other choices out there.
Book Writing Software Cost: $79.99 if purchased separately.
#2 – Scrivener
You just learned that Microsoft Word is the most widely used word processor in the world. But does that mean it’s the best book writing software?
Think about it this way. The fact that Word is so prevalent means that it has to cater to all sorts of users—students, businesspeople, writers, teachers, marketers, lawyers, the list goes on and on and on.
But Scrivener was created for one type of person only:
And if you’re a writer, chances are you’ve heard of Scrivener. A lot of writers absolutely love this program, with its advanced features and distraction-free writing experience.
In short, Scrivener gives you an insane amount of flexibility for writing, formatting, and organizing your book.
Entrepreneur Michael Hyatt also praises Scrivener: “I now begin every piece of content—no matter what it is—with this tool. It has simplified my life and enabled me to focus on the most important aspect of my job—creating new content. I am more productive than ever.”
Here are some of the top takeaways of this book writing software:
- Helps with plotting for fiction authors
- Easily export your data to other digital platforms such as Kobo, ibooks, etc. (this is one of the best features)
- Provides outlining functionality that keeps your content organized
- Powerful composition mode with distraction-free writing environment
- Easily drag and drop to move sections around
- Provides a collection of robust templates
- Supports MultiMarkdown for bullets and numbers
Because Scrivener was designed for writers, it’s super easy to lay out scenes, move content around, and outline your story, article, or manuscript.
Instead of keeping all your content in one big file, Scrivener allows you to create multiple sub-files to make it easier to organize and outline your project:
Scrivener is a fabulous tool for plotting out storylines. Using the corkboard view, for instance, you can recreate the popular “notecard method” for outlining your project:
But as awesome as Scrivener is, it’s not perfect.
And the biggest downside to using Scrivener is the steep learning curve involved. You aren’t going to master this program overnight.
But if you’re serious about your writing career, then investing the time to learn this specific writing tool will be worth it. You’ll save time and energy in the long run.
And if you want to learn how to use Scrivener as quickly & easily as possible, we can help! Here’s a full Scrivener tutorial so you can easily maneuver this program.
Long story short: Scrivener is an investment, but one that’s worth it. It will take some time to master. But once you get the hang of it, you’ll never go back—it’s the single most powerful book writing software out there.
If you like what you see from Scrivener, you can buy it here:
Book Writing Software Cost: $45
#3 – Google Docs
We’ve looked at the appealing simplicity of Word and the in-depth power of Scrivener, but there’s another book writing software that more and more people are starting to use for various reasons:
Essentially, Google Docs is a stripped-down version of Word that you can only use online. It’s a simple, yet effective writing tool.
The beauty of this program (and Google Drive in general) comes in the ability to share content, files, and documents among your team. You can easily communicate via comments, for example:
This program keeps a complete history of all changes made to a document, so if you accidentally delete something you wanted to keep, simply click the link at the top of the screen that says, “All changes saved in drive.”
That will bring up the version history, where you can review all the changes that have been made to your book file and revert to a previous version if you so choose.
Google Docs doesn’t require any installation and can be accessed anywhere via your browser, or an app on your phone.
(Anyone who has ever lost a draft of a book understands how valuable this feature is!)
Plus you can access your work when you move from one location or another—no carrying a laptop or thumb drive around with you. When you share a book draft with others, like test readers or your editor, they can comment directly on the draft using the built-in comment functionality.
Out of the “big 3” book writing software tools, Google Docs is probably the least sophisticated when it comes to formatting and outlining tools. But it makes up for that with easy collaboration, sharing, and online access.
Book Writing Software Cost: Free
Book Writing Software You Might Not Know About
Just because you may not be familiar with a specific writing software doesn’t mean it’s not beneficial or even better than what you’re using now.
Let’s get to know some of the best book writing tools you can use to up your author game and make some progress.
#1 – Pages
Think of Pages as the Mac alternative to Microsoft Word.
It has a variety of beautiful templates to choose from, has a simple design, and syncs with all devices from within iCloud so you can access it in a number of different places.
Personally, I love the ease of Pages. It works great for creating ebooks or manuscripts with a variety of writing tools you can get creative with.
Book Writing Software Cost: $28
#2 – Freedom
Freedom isn’t technically a writing tool, but it sure can help improve your writing. It’s a productivity app designed to help eliminate distractions by blocking certain websites – something more than beneficial for those of us who get sidetracked easily.
For example: let’s say you have a tendency to get distracted by social media sites. All you have to do us start a Freedom session that blocks all your social media sites—and then you won’t be able to visit them even if you wanted to.
Here’s what it looks like when you schedule a session:
Notice that you have a lot of options. You can schedule one-time sessions (starting now or later), or you can set up recurring sessions (for example, to block distracting sites every day when it’s time to write).
When you try to visit a site that’s being blocked, you’ll get this message:
This is a really liberating tool. Once you know you don’t have the option of visiting those distracting sites, you’ll find it easier to keep focused on your writing and you’ll be able to get a lot more done.
Book Writing Software Cost: $2.42/month and up, or $129 for lifetime access.
#3 – Ulysses
If you’re a Mac owner, this might be the best book writing software for you. While you do have to pay $39.99 per year to use it, the cost to use Ulysses is completely justified.
One of the best features has to be the distraction-free capabilities. As a writer who gets distracted easily, this is definitely a feature I look for in a good book writing software.
This one is also great for exporting. Meaning, you can do all your writing in-app and then export it in relatively any format you’d need in order to send it to your editor, critique partner, or even beta readers.
And if you’re someone who has a hard time keeping all of your notes and ideas organized for your book, this app also has a feature that helps you keep all of it straight!
Say goodbye to forgetting what you wanted to add in that obscure scene you wrote two months ago!
Overall, this is one of the best book writing software programs out there for Mac users. But if you’re not sure if it’s worth the price, you can actually try it for free for 14 days. What a deal!
Book Writing Software Cost: $39.99/year
Free Book Writing Software
There’s not much we love more than getting stuff for free – especially when it comes to our aspirations. You don’t have to doll out a ton of cash just to use highly beneficial book writing software.
In fact, there are many best free book writing software programs.
#1 – FastPencil
FastPencil is a nice little platform with lots of tools. You can also use it for distributing your ebook. It is free to start writing with, but they offer paid services as well.
Everything happens online in your browser, which means you can access your files from any computer (as long as you’re connected to the Internet).
Here’s what the word processor looks like:
Book Writing Software Cost: Free (paid upgrades are optional)
#2 – FocusWriter
FocusWriter is a word processor for writers that’s intended to eliminate distractions to help you get your book written quicker. It’s a basic, lightweight writing tool that was designed to be completely free of progress inhibiting distractions.
In its fullscreen mode, there are no toolbars or additional windows, just a background and your text so that you can concentrate solely on writing your draft.
You can customize the image in the background to suit your project to help inspire your writing.
It’s simple and effective. If you need a lot of features, it probably won’t work for you. But if simplicity is your thing, then you may have found your perfect free writing tool.
Book Writing Software Cost: Free
#3 – yWriter
yWriter is a really popular word processor (intended mainly for novelists) with some impressive features (especially for a program that’s completely free).
It helps keep your project organized by giving you space to include notes on all sorts of things, like character notes, scene notes, scene goals, etc.
You can specify whose point of view each scene will be written in, and you can see the word count of your entire novel broken out by chapter—all at a quick glance:
One thing that yWriter does differently than a lot of other writing programs is focus on scenes rather than on chapters. A lot of writers prefer this since scenes are usually fun chunks of story to work on.
And using yWriter, you can rearrange all those scenes to compose a compelling novel.
I’d call it a Scrivener alternative that’s free to use. But one downside is that it only works for Windows (at least, for now).
Book Writing Software Cost: Free
#4 – Evernote
Evernote is a note-taking app. It’s a great way to keep track of your thoughts—like brainstorming ideas, outlining chapters, and jotting down inspiration when it strikes.
The mobile app is particularly useful for capturing new ideas when they strike, since most people have their phone with them 24/7.
Here’s what Evernote looks like on a phone:
While you can use Evernote to write content—I’ve used it for writing blogs and other small sections of books—you wouldn’t want to use it as your main word processor. Its functionality is a bit too limited.
But as a way of keeping track of ideas, it’s a great find.
Book Writing Software Cost: Free, but there is a cool upgrade for $5 a month that gets you Evernote Premium
#5 – Hemingway Editor
The Hemingway Editor is a unique kind of writing tool. It’s a style checker that’s designed to help tighten up your prose and make your writing clear and bold.
Simply paste your writing into the editor and scroll through. You’ll notice that the program highlights certain words & passages—like long, hard-to-read sentences, passive verbs, and phrases with simpler alternatives.
It’s basically your own personal editor rolled into a writing software.
Here’s an example of what it looks like:
(Yikes. Too bad Dickens didn’t have this app.)
What I love about this tool is how easy it is to use. Everything is color-coded and super easy to understand, so you can see at a glance where your writing could use a little elbow grease.
Book Writing Software Cost: Free, or you can purchase the desktop version for $19.99.
#6 – Dropbox
Reading this, you may be wondering: Dropbox? How is that a writing tool?
Trust me—it is!
While it’s true that Dropbox isn’t a word processor like Scrivener or yWriter, it is a very helpful writing tool. Especially for writers who write on more than one computer, who need to collaborate with other writers or editors, or who want an easy way to back up their work.
Here’s how it works:
When you set up Dropbox and install it on your computer, it will create a new “Dropbox” folder on your machine.
Any files that you save in this folder will be automatically backed up to Dropbox’s servers in the cloud, which will be automatically downloaded to any other computers that are synced to that same Dropbox account.
A lot of writers choose to save their book on Dropbox, so that it will be automatically backed up. And as you can see, it looks the same as any other folder on your computer:
Using this strategy, you can make it easier to share and collaborate on your files—even if you aren’t using Google Docs.
Book Writing Software Cost: Free for a basic plan, or $9.99/month for extra storage.
#7 – Open Office
You may know of this software, you may not. Essentially, it’s a free version of a word processor much like Word or Pages. If you don’t have Word on your computer and can’t afford to buy it, this is a great alternative that’ll get the job done.
Here’s what this book writing software looks like:
The capabilities are pretty limited with Open Office but if you really only need the basics and don’t want to spend any money, this is the perfect writing software for you.
Book Writing Software Cost: Free
How Much Does Book Writing Software Programs Cost?
I would recommend not worrying too much about the cost of these programs. After all, dropping $100 or less on a program is not that big a deal if it is going to help improve your writing for years to come.
That said, I know you work hard for your money—and you want to get the best deal you can!
Here is a breakdown of the most recent prices for all of the tools in this article along with their comparative features:
|Software||Key Features||Software Cost|
|Microsoft Word||- ease of use|
- fewer distractions
|Free if already installed or $129.99|
- progress tracking
|Pages||- ease of use|
- Mac compatible
- Accessibility through iCloud syncing
|$2.42/month or $129 for lifetime access|
|Google Docs||- auto-saving|
- voice to text
- accessibility across multiple devices
|Evernote||- easy note taking|
- easy to organize
|Free or $5/month for additional premium upgrades|
- ease of use
|Fast Pencil||- publishing|
|Free or additional expenses for upgrades and extended features|
- scene-specific structuring
|Hemingway Editor||- writing improvement|
- you learn a lot
- ease of use
|Free or $19.99 for the desktop version|
|Dropbox||- accessibility across devices|
- ease of use
|Free or $9.99/month for additional storage|
|Open Office||- ease of use|
- basic capabilities
What’s Your Favorite Book Writing Software?
Take some time to check out each of these tools if you aren’t already using them. Stay focused on crafting your next book and stick with the book writing software that gives you the best results in terms of saving you money, time, and frustration.
Keep writing. Keep it simple. Best of all, enjoy the creative process!
Now that you have these awesome tools at your disposal, what is your favorite writing tool? What best suits your needs as an author? Can you speed up the writing process with any particular tool?
What to do Next
Writing a book takes a lot more than discovering some helpful book writing software. Here’s what you can do right now to head in the right direction with your book.
#1 Join your free training!
The process of learning never stops when it comes to writing and publishing a book. And just because you have a fancy piece of software doesn’t mean writing a book will come naturally.
In fact, it hardly ever does.
#2 Try a few different options
Don’t just pick one of these writing software options and be done with it. Sometimes you really need to try them out before you can determine which will fit your needs with your current project.
Make some notes as you work through a few and be sure to put together a pros and cons list to ensure you’re choosing the best option to propel you forward on your writing journey.
#3 Nail down your book information
I know it might seem fun to get started once you have a super helpful writing platform to use, but you need to nail down your book idea first.
Without these two necessities, you won’t get very far – even with some beneficial writing software.
Do you use one of these writing software programs? Let us know how they are below!
That word may conjure images of 7th Grade English, scribbling at your desk in frustration while a stern teacher looks over your shoulder as you try to learn how to outline.
A book outline can be almost as intimidating as that teacher’s blatant glare.
Many of us learned how to outline in middle school, and it’s a skill we haven’t revisited since our braces came off and the acne faded away.
But have no fear! You’re a grown-up now, and this project isn’t being graded, which means learning how to outline a book can (and will!) be pain-free, especially with the right help.
You have free reign to structure your book outline to benefit your writing process—whether that’s a spaghetti-on-the-wall approach or a color-coded Excel spreadsheet.
Us at Self-Publishing School? We love this tried-and-true Mindmap to Outline procedure.
Book Outlining & The Whole Process All in One
We understand you.
Your life is busy and sometimes you want all the (book-related) goods in one place. We heard you – and we listened!
Chandler Bolt created this all-in-one exclusive training for serious soon-to-be-authors. If you want to learn how to outline and everything else about the book writing process, make sure to sign up to save your spot!
Because if you want to learn how to outline, you may as well get as much information as you can right away. Trust us, it’ll make your writing process that much easier.
What is a Book Outline?
It’s easy to see this term and wonder exactly what that means. Is it a bullet list of topics for your book? Is it a chapter by chapter overview written in paragraphs?
No matter how you write an outline, the purpose is the same.
Why Should I Write a Book Outline?
No matter which type of book outline you choose, planning before you write has many benefits. It’s not just about getting your thoughts on the paper, either. It’s about so much more than the actual writing.
Outlines can do a number of things for you:
- help you define your goals
- finish your manuscript quicker
- stay focused
- avoid plot holes
- create a cohesive plan
- see your story from start to finish
- help you stay motivated
- ensure you can focus on the quality of your writing instead of what to write
You don’t need to spend huge amounts of time learning how to outline a book, but some (mostly painless!) prep before writing will be time well-spent since you won’t be spinning your wheels by staring at the blank screen of death.
When you start with a plan, you’ll unconsciously make connections and think about your draft, even when you’re not actively writing.
Mentally writing in the shower is one of the perks of outlining, because it will get your thoughts percolating. Be sure to keep paper and pens scattered about so you can capture your brilliance the minute it bubbles up, rather than letting all those ideas fade away.
Once you have a plan to write your book in outline form, you’ll be better able to put these thoughts to paper and compose your chapters when you do sit down to write.
This means a finished book in less time!
And I have some good news: there’s no “right” way to outline. Each writer will have their own process that’s personal to them.
Keep reading for tips on how to outline different ways. If one of these exact methods doesn’t strike a chord with you, you can combine methods to create your own way that works best for your unique book.
Are you writing a fiction or non-fiction book? Depending on which you’re working on, the outlining process may look be different.
Thankfully, there are plenty of relevant tips you can apply in the section about outlining a non-fiction book. Likewise, even if you’re writing non-fiction, the section on how to write a fiction outline can help spark some ideas for your process, so we recommend authors of all types of books read the full list.
How to Write a Nonfiction Book Outline
Most non-fiction authors find outlines useful due to the nature of their books. Generally, works of non-fiction require research and citation of sources (although many novels require their own research!).
An outline can help organize your research so it doesn’t overwhelm you, plus your outline will help you create the best structure for your finished book.
These are some of the beneficial methods we recommend for you.
#1 – Mindmap + Book Outline
This is the main method of outlining that we teach in Self-Publishing School. The mindmap method requires you to create a brain dump based on your book’s topic. Write your topic in the center of a piece of paper, then use lines and words to draw as many connections as you can.
You’ll start to notice connections between different categories of information. This makes it easier to spot the relevant “book-worthy” ideas. Then you can pluck those ideas out of your mindmap and put them into a cohesive book outline.
We also recommend doing a mindmap for each chapter you select from your original mindmap. It will help you structure your entire book chapter by chapter.
Fun, and so easy—we told you this would be (mostly) painless!
At Self-Publishing School, we encourage students to make a mess with their mindmap. Regardless of what your mind map looks like in the end, it is an essential element to your book writing process.
This mind map will be the jumping off point for you to begin your outline. In this brief video, Chandler explains how to turn your mindmap into an outline:
#2 – Simple Book Outline
A simple book outline is just as it sounds; keep it basic and brief. Start with the title. Don’t get too hung up on the perfect title at this stage of the process; you just want to come up with a good-for-now placeholder.
You can always change the title later—in fact, you probably will—but starting with some kind of title gives you a better idea of where you want your book to go. Plus, it jump-starts the creative process.
Next, you’ll list all of the key points that cover your book’s overall theme and message. You’ll use these key points to generate your notes. Later, you’ll flesh out these notes to draft your book chapters.
#3 – Chapter-by-Chapter Book Outline
Your chapter-by-chapter book outline is a pumped-up version of the simple book outline. To get started, first create a complete chapter list. With each chapter listed as a heading, you’ll later add material or shift chapters around as the draft evolves.
Create a working title for each chapter, and list them in a logical order. After that, you’ll fill in the key points of each chapter. Finally, you’ll link your resources as they would appear in each chapter, including books, interviews, and Web links.
Here’s a great example of a chapter-by-chapter nonfiction outline completed with bullet lists.
#4 – Sketch Your Book Outline
Perhaps you find the idea of a written outline confining. That’s OK — there’s another option which might appeal to your artistic side.
Dan Roam, author of The Back of the Napkin: Solving Problems and Selling Ideas with Pictures, wrote about how sketching your ideas can simplify complex thoughts.
To create this type of book outline, hand-draw your book concept in sequential order. This may be as simple or as elaborate as you desire. Feel free to use a Bic pen and a spiral notebook, or take it to the next level with a color medium on canvas-sized paper.
The great thing about drawing your book is that you can later use the images as promotional and marketing material!
#5 – Book Outline With Scrivener
If you like being uber-organized, then the writing software Scrivener might appeal to you. Their book outline program allows you to upload your research, organize it by moving it around, and filing it into folders.
Like many writing software programs, it does have a fairly extensive learning curve, which can be a major downside—especially if you tend to procrastinate and really want to get your book published quickly. However, some writers say it revolutionized their organizational process for longer works.
You can learn more about the program and its uses here or check out this tutorial for an overview.
How to Outline a Novel in 6 Ways
While you can incorporate the book outlining tips we shared in the non-fiction section above, creating an outline for your novel will be inherently different from creating a non-fiction outline.
While the methods may be different, the goal is the same—organization and pre-planning so that you can write a great, cohesive book much faster.
#1 – Basic Document
Your goal with the Basic Document format is to use a Word or Excel table to give structure to your theme. Create a table and organize and summarize your key points and plot.
You’ll then create a separate section for characters and themes, and an additional section with relevant research.
#2 – Post-It Wall
This is for the creative mind, and another method we teach in Self-Publishing School. All you need is a blank wall and a box of Post-It notes. Carry a pad of Post-Its with you wherever you go, and doodle your book on the fly.
Write your ideas and inspiration on your Post-Its when the mood strikes you.
Next, affix the Post-Its containing words, snippets, doodles, and phrases to the wall. After a week of this exercise, organize these words into novel outline form. Voila—simple, effective, creative!
#3 – The Snowflake Method
The Snowflake Method was created by fiction writing coach Randy Ingermanson based on the notion, “Good fiction doesn’t just happen. It’s designed.”
The process of the snowflake method focuses on starting small, then expanding. For example, you’d start with one line from your book, then add a paragraph, then add a chapter.
Since the snowflake method is fairly detailed and based on scientific theory, Randy’s article is worth a read so you can review the detailed steps involved in this outlining method.
#4 – The Skeletal Outline
If you’ve ever written a term paper or thesis, then you’re probably familiar with the skeletal outline. You’ll lay out your narrative points in the order they’ll appear in your story, which involves a broad 7-step story arch.
This gives you a big picture idea of the flow of your story, so you can adjust your story and add subplots for maximum impact.
#5 – Novel Outline Template
Why reinvent the wheel? If you’re impatient to jump right into the fun part—writing!—or you aren’t sure exactly how to format your novel outline, then a pre-formatted template outline might be your saving grace.
A fill-in-the-blank novel outline can help you develop your plot, characters, and ideas without getting bogged down with the notion of striving for “proper” outline form.
#6 – The Reverse Outline
Sometimes looking at the problem from a different angle can give you the answer to the question. The same applies to outlining.
Reverse outlining is exactly what it sounds like: Write down how your novel ends. Then once you know the ending, outline backward to get to that happy (Or sad? You’re the author!) ending.
For more ideas and creatives ways to jump-start your novel outline, check out How to Write a Novel Outline.
Here’s the takeaway: No matter which option you choose, ultimately, you’ll write faster and better with a book outline. If one way doesn’t work well for you, then experiment and try another. Remember, your goal is a finished manuscript, not the gold medal for “Most Perfect Book Outline.”
Discover what works best for you and you’ll be one step closer to a finished book.
Ready to become a published author?
Make sure to take advantage of this free training. It will take you through everything you need to go from blank page to published author in as little as 90 days! You’ll have your outline started before your training is even finished.
Are you an outliner? What’s the best method you’ve used and how did it help you the most?
Historically, if you wanted to know how to publish a book, you needed an agent to get a traditional publisher to look at your manuscript.
In fact, many publishing companies won’t even open a manuscript if it doesn’t come through an agent. Which makes learning how to publish a book way more difficult.
What’s worse is even if they do open it, it’s still unlikely that your book will be published and sold in bookstores!
*Cue the groans and grumbles of irritation*
So is there a better method?
Yes! In fact, there is another way for your book to not only be published, but to even become a bestseller! This method has led to the success of many authors and is changing the book and traditional publishing industry.
It’s called self-publishing
Personally speaking, I’ve self-published 6 bestselling non-fiction books on Amazon, sold tens of thousands of copies, and continue to collect thousands per month in royalty checks.
The success of my books has been directly responsible for the strong performance of my business, which has grown to over 7 figures in less than 2 years.
Five years ago, in order to achieve this level of publishing success, you would have needed to be extremely lucky to even land an agent who would attempt to find you a deal at one of the “Big 5” publishing houses.
This is no longer the case. Not only do you no longer need one of the “Big 5” companies to publish your book, now self-published authors are actively turning down offers from publishing companies!
So If you are trying to publish your book and are having no luck landing a publisher, self-publishing could be the best option for you.
Better yet, making the decision to learn how to navigate the self-publishing world the right away can save you countless wasted hours.
What’s the Difference Between Self-Publishing and Traditional Publishing?
It’s easy to look at these two publishing routes and get confused. Why would someone self-publishin when there are companies dedicated to doing it for you?
There are actually many reasons. Here’s a chart detailing what you receive through self-publishing versus traditional publishing.
|You need to spend excess time landing an agent||X||✓|
|You need to market the book yourself||✓||✓|
|You keep 100% creative control||✓||X|
|You keep 100% of royalties||✓||X|
|You keep full rights to your work forever||✓||X|
|Costs are covered||X||✓|
|You have 100% control of the pace of production||✓||X|
|You work at your own pace||✓||X|
|You control when your book stops "printing"||✓||X|
How to Publish a Book in 2018
Because many writers get overwhelmed with the abundance of information about the self-publishing process, what it’ll cost, how to do it right, how to come up with a good book idea, and more, I’ve created a step-by-step comprehensive self-publishing guide that will walk you through the beginning steps of how to write your book all the way to how to self-publish it on Amazon’s Kindle (KDP) Network.
In order to learn how to publish a book, we’ll cover:
- Deciding Why You Want to Write a Book
- Writing Your Book
- Getting Feedback on Your Book
- Choosing a Book Title
- Hiring a Great Book Editor
- Designing a Book Cover that Converts
- Creating Your Kindle Direct Publishing Account
- Formatting and Uploading your Book
- Self-Publishing Your Book
- Pricing Your Book
- Forming a Launch Team
- Maximizing Book Launch Exposure
Let’s get started so you can get started!
#1 – Deciding Why You Want to Learn How to Self-Publish a Book
What you need to decide first when self-publishing a book, is WHY you want to write a book. I encourage going through this brainstorming process as it’s the only way to ensure that you’re 100% committed to writing a book (and you’re doing it for the right reasons).
Here are some questions for you to consider:
- Are you an entrepreneur or freelancer with a new business trying to get a leg up on your competition by publishing a book?
- Do you want to leverage your skills and knowledge to become a paid speaker or coach?
- Do you have a well-established business and you want to write a book to diversify your income streams and land speaking engagements?
- Or do you already have a successful story, and want to build an asset that will share the knowledge and skills you’ve gained over decades of experience?
- Do you have a larger number of book ideas or prompts you need to start writing?
#2 – Writing Your Book
If you’ve ever tried to write a book, you might have had moments where you’ve stared at a blank page for hours with nothing to show for it. Feeling frustrated, you resort to procrastinating and get nothing done! This is normal, writing a book is hard work.
In fact, coming up with a book idea in general can be very tricky.
But in order to start writing your book, you must develop a writing process.
Here’s are some effective ways to develop the writing process:
- Buy a calendar. The best way to have your book complete is to have a calendar that schedules your goals per day/week.
- Create an outline. An outline is like a map of your book that provides direction to your story. It keeps you on track and ensures that your ideas are organized.
- Develop a writing habit. Condition yourself to write at the same time every day. With this practice, it will soon become a habit that will make writing a book automatic.
To learn more tips on how to write, here’s a tutorial video of the simple process I use to write over 1500 words per hour:
#3 – Getting Feedback on Your Book
When writing your book, it’s important to get as much feedback as early in the process as possible. It’s essential to get this feedback in order to improve your writing.
As writers, it’s all too easy to retreat into your cave for a long period of time, spend countless hours writing what you think is the perfect first draft, only to find that a) your draft doesn’t make sense to anyone else or b) no one else is as interested in the topic as you originally thought.
Not only can a fresh set of eyes on your book help you catch typos and grammatical errors, but a new perspective can give you ideas for tightening up your story and making the theme more clear.
Giving your book to one (or more) “beta readers” before giving it to an editor and self-publishing can also cut down on the time and cost of paying a professional editor.
You can also use a beneficial piece of writing software like Grammarly so you can learn as you write!
#4 – Choosing a Book Title
Contrary to popular belief, you should never decide on a book title until after you are done writing your first draft. This is because choosing a book title first often results in you “writing yourself into a corner” because you’re trying so hard to align your story to the title of the book instead of writing what needs to be written.
Don’t make this more complicated than it needs to be.
The key to choosing a perfect title is: the simpler the title, the better. As you’re brainstorming ideas, always remember to keep it simple. Your title should also be clear on what your readers will receive by reading your book. This is because experts state that a clear promise or a guarantee of results will further intrigue your readers.
Here are some questions to consider when creating your memorable title:
- Is your title going to teach a high demand skill?
- Can your title impact someone’s life?
- Can your book solve a very difficult problem?
#5 – Hiring a Great Book Editor
Hiring a great editor can mean the difference between writing a bestseller, or a mediocre book. Therefore, it’s important to take as much time as necessary during this stage of the process.
To find an editor for your book, begin with your personal network. Do you personally know any qualified editors? Start there. If you don’t, then do you know someone who knows an editor?
If you don’t have any luck finding an editor within your personal network, don’t worry! Depending on your budget, you can either hire a professional book editor or hire a more budget-friendly editor from Upwork. But be careful and always check references and portfolios of work.
As a Self-Publishing School student, we will also provide you with a Rolodex of approved and vetted book editors who all do a great job.
No matter how you find your editor, make sure you’re a good fit before committing to the full book by paying them a small sum ($25 or so) to edit a few pages or a chapter of your book. Make sure the editor is interested in the subject matter, that they can get your whole book edited in 3.5 weeks or less including back-and-forth revisions, and that their edits are both accurate and make sense to you.
If you don’t feel you’re a good fit following a sample edit, then let that $25 go and find an editor who’s going to work out rather than sinking more money into a relationship that might be a mistake.
Whatever you do, don’t give up during the editorial process! If one editor isn’t working out for you or meeting your needs, find another.
#6 – Designing a Book Cover that Converts
When it comes to self-publishing, a high-quality book cover is one of the most important elements that will get your book to convert into sales! The reason is because your cover design is what readers see first and will immediately determine whether they want to read your book or not.
“Don’t judge a book by its cover” simply doesn’t apply to actual book covers, as much as we wish it did. The hard truth is that everyone judges a book by its cover whether they realize it or not.
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 amazing book cover designers on freelancing sites such as:
Prices will vary depending on what type of service you want, but the end result will be well worth the spend.
#7 – Creating Your Kindle Direct Self-Publishing Account
Amazon has a self-publishing service called Kindle Direct Publishing where you can create and manage your Kindle eBook, paperback, and audio books. You can even link it with CreateSpace to offer print books to your audience.
It’s the best way to learn how to publish a book and start selling quickly, and I’ve used it for all my self-published books. I highly recommend it for all new self-publishers!
Setting up your KDP account is very simple! Start by following these steps:
- Visit https://kdp.amazon.com and create an account with either your existing Amazon account or your email address.
- Next, you must complete your tax information. You will not be able to submit your published book if you do not complete this step.
- Once your tax information is complete, hit “Finished” and your account is complete!
#8 – Formatting Your Self-Published Book
If you’re on a budget, there are plenty of resources online that can tell you how to format your book yourself for free. You can start by looking at Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) forums where there are plenty of discussions on book formatting.
You can also use KDP’s free resources to help format your book. Formatting can be a frustrating experience for the uninitiated though, so if you have a few bucks to spare, you might consider paying someone to help you.
Also keep in mind that formatting will look different for fiction versus nonfiction books.
Typically, nonfiction books don’t have an indent between paragraphs but instead, they have spaces whereas fiction books are indented with each new paragraph, as pictured below.
If you want to pay for formatting, Liber Writer is a low-cost, effective option for converting a Microsoft Word file to Amazon’s Kindle format. If $60 is too much, you can also find people on Fiverr to format your book for Kindle. Just be sure you hire someone who knows how to format your specific book genre.
#9 – Self-Publishing Your Book
When you feel confident your book is ready for the public, you can create a KDP account and upload your book.
- On the KDP mainpage, locate and click on “Your Bookshelf”.
- Locate and click on “Kindle eBook Actions”.
- Then, locate and click on “Edit eBook Content”.
- Finally, click on “Upload eBook Manuscript”, and upload your manuscript file from your computer.
Amazon also allows you to select 7 keywords or keyword phrases to make sure your intended audience can find your book when searching on Amazon. It’s highly recommended you also select two different categories your book might fit into so you can reach a broader audience.
To select keywords and categories, look at other best-selling books in your niche and notice what keywords and categories those authors chose.
Once Amazon finishes uploading your file, a confirmation message will be sent and you can preview the uploaded file to check for any errors.
Create your Amazon author central account after uploading your book. Include a bio, photo, and link to your website or blog to help you stand out among authors. After a few more steps, you’ll be ready to publish your book, at which time you’ll click “save & publish” in your KDP book dashboard.
Afterward, you should be ready to publish your book! Just click “save & publish” in the book editing screen!
#10 – Pricing Your Book
One of the most important decisions when it comes to self-publishing a book is how to price it. The most common question I get from new writers is, “How much should my book cost?”
To answer this, my general rule of thumb is to have your book priced is between $2.99 to $5.99.
To be more specific, when beginning a launch, I would begin by pricing the book at $0.99 for the launch period. Then I would set the price to 2.99, and I would moderately increase the price by $1 every week and measure how well the new price performs. Once you see a sales dip, that will determine the exact price of your book that will guarantee book sales.
#11 – Forming a Launch Team
Your launch team is the group of people who are dedicated to helping make your book successful. They should be a passionate group of individuals who are eager to make your book launch successful.
Remember, one highly skilled team member is better than a group of mediocre ones!
To find quality candidates, here’s a questionnaire you can use to assess applicants and see if they’re qualified to market your book:
- Why do you want to support my book?
- What goals are you trying to reach with this project?
- How would you market this book?
- Which influencers would you reach out to and why?
#12 – Maximizing Book Launch Exposure
It’s not enough to learn how to publish a book and be done with it. You still have to take action even after your official launch.
As soon as your book goes live on Amazon, be sure to leverage your launch team and your audience to help you market your book! It may be odd to ask your fans for help, but your fans are there to support your project and want to see you succeed. You might be surprised how willing they’ll be to help you if you just ask!
Here are some marketing initiatives you can assign your team and audience to do:
- Share content from your book as blog posts across social media
- Submit reviews on Amazon
- Help build your book’s website
- Reach out to influencers for a future guest post or podcast feature
- Share a book review on their YouTube channel
- Buy extra copies to gift their friends
The additional exposure generated from your launch team and audience will help push your book up Amazon’s rankings, which will drive more sales!
#13 – Celebrate Learning How to Self-Publish a Book!
Publishing a book is just the beginning. Depending on your goals for your book, self-publishing can get you more customers, free publicity, and establish you as an expert in your niche. This can help you land speaking gigs and build a business within your area of expertise.
Your book sales can also help fund your lifestyle with passive income.
Dream big about what you want your book to do for you. When you have a vision for where you want your book to take you, it will be easier to take advantage of opportunities as they arise. Getting clear on what you want will also help you to be more effective when expanding your network along on your journey.
What to do Next
Now that you’ve learned how to publish a book, it’s time to take action and bring yourself one step closer to your goals and dreams. Here are a few actionable steps you can take right now!
#1 – Learn more!
If self-publishing a bestseller is something you want to do, and you’re serious about changing your life and your business for the better by getting your book out there in the world, then you need to focus on learning more about the process.
Because without having the knowledge, moving toward success is very difficult – but that’s where we come in!
#2 – Find your WHY and your topic
Ask yourself right now why you want to write a book. Having your purpose at the forefront of your mind for the duration of writing your book will help keep you focused and motivated.
Make a list of all the reasons you want to write a book and circle the one that’s the strongest; the reason you want to write a book that makes you excited about the possibilities.
Now what do you actually want to write about? Are you going for a fiction book or do you want to write a memoir that showcases your life’s most influential moments?
Jot down your goal or topic and get started on the next step.
#3 – Start your mind map
Yes, you’re already ready to start working that mind map!
We’ll actually help you out a little bit and give you a couple free templates you can use to get started. Organizing your thoughts on a specific topic can be really hard unless you have a guide to help jog some ideas.
You can download either our fiction mind map or our non-fiction depending on which topic you’re writing about. Just click on either below and start mapping your book!
Are you ready to learn how to publish a book? What’s holding you back from writing, publishing, and selling a life-changing book?
Carving out the time to write a book requires planning, persistence, and at times, a lot of caffeine. Even with all the right elements in place, making time for writing is a major undertaking, especially when your days are filled with commitments to work, family, and social activities.
So, you have a dream to write that book, but you’re locked into a schedule that’s keeping you from pursuing your dream.
I know the routine:
Get up, work all day, come home and make dinner, and look after the kids (or unwind in front of the TV) and then you fall into bed, exhausted, before you have to do it all again the next day. When the weekend comes, you just want to kick back, take it easy, and put the week behind you. Then Monday comes around and the rat race starts all over again. Soon you can hear yourself making excuses for all the reasons why you didn’t write:
“I was so busy this week I just didn’t have time…”
“I’ll do it next week when I’m more organized…”
“I’ll start writing when I’m feeling more motivated…”
“I’ll get to it once I quit my day job and have more time…”
But as you know by now, there’s never a perfect time. We’re always busy with something. And if we don’t take action when we can, the excuses will keep coming until we run out of time forever. Don’t let your dream die. I’m going to help you get your book done.
Time for Writing: 8 Steps to Becoming a Weekend Writing Warrior
By becoming a weekend writing warrior, you can get it done. I know because I’ve done it. In this post I’ll share with you my 8 step strategy for writing a book on the weekends even if your week is crazy busy.
#1 – Start With Intentional Planning
When it comes to getting your writing done, strategy is everything. Without a plan, you drift; and when you drift, you end up back where you started, wasting more time while procrastinating. The key to writing a book on your weekends is to get plan out how you will use your writing time. If you know ahead of time what you’ll be focusing on, where you’ll be writing and for how long, when it comes time to start writing, you’ll show up ready for keyboard action.
Our intentional planning model should consist of:
- Researching topics, articles, and interviews
- Chapter mind mapping
- Crafting an outline
A good craftsman always shows up to create with his best tools. As writers, we need to spend time preparing to write before showing up at the keyboard. You want to do any necessary research outside of your writing time, not during it. Stopping just to check that “one thing” breaks your writing flow (and often sends you off into the wilds of the internet, never to return).
During my writing sessions, if I get stuck and need to check on something, I’ll make a note in the paragraph like CBL [Come Back Later].
You can set up your chapters as well by doing brief mind maps for each. If you have crafted your book’s outline already, this should be easy.
Take a few minutes each day during the week to do a quick outline for each chapter. You don’t have to write anything until the weekend, but at the very least, make some notes about what you’re going to write when the weekend comes so you’re prepared.
#2 – Setting Up Your Writing Space
Your writing environment has a huge influence on how your writing sessions flow. Will you write in a coffee shop? A quiet room? Under the stairs? Locked in a closet with just your laptop and a light bulb? Wherever you choose to write, it should be at least comfortable and a place you can stay focused for long periods of time.
My environment consists of my computer, motivational quotes, and mind maps for my books.
Decorating your writing space adds to inspiration, but also serves as a reminder:
This is where you write. Make it a place that you can enjoy creating in. But does it have to be just the one place? Of course not.
You can change writing locations and have two or three designated spots. I would recommend having a primary spot you write in consistently, but have another place set up that you can get to just in case you need to change locations. Try out several places and see what works best. Take note of how you feel working in your creative element.
Is it comfortable?
Are you comfortable?
Is it an energetic spot or, do you feel irritated and restless?
Do you work better in a place that’s quiet [private room] or super noisy [Starbucks]?
On days when I spend all day writing, I’ll break it up into two different locales: one is my writing room, and the other is a coffee shop. If the noise is a problem, I’ll wear headphones and tune out everything with some mellow writing music.
#3 – Show Up With Your Mind Map and Book Outline
I have shown up many times to write only to realize I had no plan for what I was writing. This leads to procrastination and then I look for something else to occupy my time. Know what you are going to write by planning beforehand. Developing your mind map or a book outline is the surest way to start cutting into the pages.
Before you become a weekend writer, you’ll need your mind map and outline. If you start writing without having done these important steps first, you’ll eventually end up stuck. Make sure you have your book fully mind mapped and a general working book outline.
Use your outline as a checklist to get your words down on paper with purpose. Each of your writing block sessions should have a clear purpose as to what you are going to write.
#4 – Eliminate Internet Distractions
One of the biggest obstacles writers face is being pulled out of their “writing zone” by message indicators, vibrations, and pop-ups. This includes notifications that “you’ve got email” or, better yet, someone that you don’t even know has just liked one of your comments on Facebook and you feel that need to check it out right away. My advice: unplug yourself from all things connected to the Internet.
Here is what you do:
Option 1: Unplug yourself completely from the internet. Turn off Wi-Fi or physically unplug your network cable. This is the best option to separate yourself from the internet during your writing time. This is the “zero tolerance” method that I use as my number one choice for getting things done.
Option 2: Use productivity apps to eliminate or cut down on time spent checking certain sites. Use an app such as RescueTime to block the sites that distract you by choosing the amount of time you need to focus.
RescueTime send you updates via email to let you know how much time was spent on certain websites. This is good to know, because the next time you catch yourself saying “I didn’t have time to write” but you spent three unproductive hours on a certain site, you can channel this time into your weekend writing schedule.
Two more apps I recommend are: Cold Turkey and SelfControl [for Mac]. Both apps are designed to reduce or eliminate wasted time, and this means higher focus and more time targeted for writing words fast.
In a nutshell:
Sit Down. Unplug. Focus. Write.
#5 – Establishing a Writing Schedule & Time Slots
When time is limited, it’s important to be strategic in how you use it. In the previous step, we took action by cutting off our interaction with the Internet during our writing time.
The next thing we want to do is decide:
- How long are your writing sessions going to be? 25 minutes? 40 minutes? One hour?
- How many writing sessions are you doing today?
For example, I’ll do three one-hour sessions in a day. I’ll write for one hour, take a ten-minute break, repeat. During the break, get up and move around, stretch or grab some coffee.
How to Set Up Your Writing Session
One option is to use the Pomodoro Technique. Self-published author Steve Scott, who has written close to 70 books, utilized the Pomodoro Technique to structure his writing time. Set your timer for 25 minutes and write.
Take a five-minute break, and repeat. This system works really well and is great for getting focused and writing in short bursts.
If you want to go longer, set your timer for sixty minutes. I use the timer on my iPhone. Set it for the time you are committed to writing and GO. You should focus only on your writing during this period.
No research, editing, or breaking the writing flow, unless there’s a house fire. Just write.
Set a goal for yourself to crank out one thousand words in an hour. These are longer stretches and can be tough for some people so if you are struggling, start with the Pomodoro System and ease your way into doing longer sessions.
#6 – Set Your Word Count Target
Many people get overwhelmed when they think about writing a book. But if you write 3000 words a day on the weekends, you can be done with the first draft of your book in a month. If you plan ahead and set your writing goal at a pace of 800-1200 words per hour, you’ll be done in thirty hours of writing time.
This might seem like a lot but think about it:
How much time do you spend watching TV in a week? How much time do you spend at the office? How much time do you spend checking email or on social media?
It can be done, and you can do this!
Set a daily word count target for yourself. Be strategic about this and take a rough guess how long your book is going to be. If I know I’m planning to write a 25,000-word novella, if I crank out 6000 words per weekend, I can complete a draft in a month. If your book is shorter or longer, you can adjust to fit your target deadline.
You can easily track your word count in Scrivener. You can also use a Google spreadsheet or a simple Excel spreadsheet. By tracking your progress, you have a clear indication of how close you’re getting to your goal. It’s also highly motivating to know you’re making progress.
#7 – Reward Yourself
There’s a famous proverb that says: “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” I have no idea who Jack was, but I do know that if you spend your entire weekend writing, you’re going to need some R&R at the end of it.
This is a critical stage. If you spend week after week putting in time at work and then working more on the weekend, even if it is a passion project like writing your novel, you’ll get burned out and feel less inspired when the next weekend comes around.
You deserve a break. Do something for yourself. Go to a movie. Take your friends out to dinner. Get away from the manuscript.
I usually end the weekend by engaging in some fun activities such as:
- Watching a movie
- Spending time with the kids
- Taking a long walk or running
- Taking a long drive and thinking about future goals and what I accomplished this weekend
- Meditating or working out
#8 – Plan Your Next Writing Weekend
There’s one more stage after you have wrapped things up at the end of your writing weekend. This is an important step. Before you pack it up, take ten minutes to draft a quick action plan for the week.
This consists of the book research, chapter outlining, and anything else you need to do outside of the writing process.
I do this step Sunday night before bed. Then, when the week starts I know exactly what work on to set myself up for success the following weekend.
The alternative to this is to spend five minutes each night writing down what you’ll do the next day. Do you need to outline your next chapter? Tighten up your overall book outline? Reach out to any online influencers about your next book release?
This step is part of the intentional planning phase that will keep you focused. So even while you are busy in the week with your other commitments, having a short list to refer to makes your mission clear.
The weekend is nearly here again. Are you ready? Don’t make excuses—get your book written. You can do this. If you follow the 8-step plan, three months from now you can be celebrating the publication of your next book.
The next time someone asks you the question: “How do you find the time to write?” You can now tell them: “Oh, it’s easy. I write books on the weekends.”
Like what you read and want to learn more? We’re holding a FREE online workshop where Chandler is revealing the exact tactics and strategies he used to write and publish 6 bestselling books in a row… and use them to build a 7-figure business in less than 2 years. Click here to save your spot now!
Writing without editing is like building a house without walls.
If you don’t think so, then you’re probably not someone who’s serious about writing – and writing well.
Not only does editing your own writing help you improve as a writer, but it’s also necessary to turn your very first thoughts of the story or book into something that actually represents how it looks inside your mind.
You know how it is.
Sometimes your writing just doesn’t do the story or book in your head justice.
Using the Hemingway App editor is a perfect way to get as close as possible to bringing your true vision to life.
What is the Hemingway App Editor?
The Hemingway App is an editor that highlights and corrects grammar, fluency, and sentence structure in order to help your writing read and look better.
If you’re new to the world of writing software, you may not be aware of what’s available for you.
The Hemingway App is just one of many resources out there designed to not only improve your writing as you have it but also teach you how to write better and produce tighter, neater prose in your books.
Is the Hemingway App Editor Right for You?
When it comes to choosing a writing software that’s best for you, there’s a lot to consider.
We make it easier for you. This quiz will tell you which writing software is best for your needs. Who knows, maybe the Hemingway App is your perfect match!
Hemingway App Benefits
Before we get into the real review, let’s touch on the benefits of the Hemingway App in order to help you understand exactly what this writing program has to offer.
#1 – It’s very simple to use
The Hemingway editor is not a difficult editing tool to use. In fact, it’s as easy as copying and pasting – because that’s literally all you have to do.
Just copy the writing you have and drop it into the editor. Then, BOOM, your work has been edited.
Technically, your work has been commented on, and it’s up to you to make the necessary edits suggested by the editor.
As far as ease of use, the Hemingway app is perfect.
#2 – It creates better-sounding writing
A lot of what makes the Hemingway app unique is that its purpose is to help your writing read more fluidly.
One of the main issues with many people’s writing is that it often sounds choppy.
The smoothness of writing is a coveted skill not many possess naturally and therefore, the Hemingway app editor makes it easy to see where your flow is falling short.
Once you know what to watch out for and what habits you tend to fall into, you can correct them going forward and have smoother, easier-to-read prose.
#3 – Anyone can use it
If you have the ability to write, copy, and paste, you can use the Hemingway app editor.
Because this editor works by giving you suggestions within your writing, you’ll have to be able to read and decipher what each piece of advice means as well.
But as long as you can copy and paste your work as well as understand the tips the app is giving you, you can use this.
#4 – It’s cheap or free
Although you can purchase a desktop version of the Hemingway app editor, it’s also completely free to use on their website.
You can just go to Hemingwayapp.com and paste your writing in the space where their writing is.
The results and editing tips immediately populate – all for free.
#5 – You get better the more you use it
As I’ve mentioned above, this is a great app to use whenever you want to check your writing for major grammatical and spelling errors, but you can also use this as a learning tool.
Whenever you input copy for the app to edit, make note of results that pop up time and time again. This will show you where your weakest points are and it also allows you to gauge how much you’re improving whenever you use it.
Hemingway App Editor Review
Let’s get into the real stuff – whether or not the Hemingway App is really worth all the hype.
Take a look at the video below to understand how it works and your different options when it comes to using the Hemingway editor.
Ease of use: 5/5
This editing app is the easiest I’ve seen to use. It’s literally as simple as copy and pasting, as I mentioned above.
The best part about this editor, though, is that its simplicity allows you to use it often and quickly.
Even if you want to just check over an urgent email before sending it, you can do so within a minute.
The Hemingway app functions just as you’d expect. As far as whether or not the editor does as advertised, it does – but only to a certain extent, which I’ll touch on in the next point.
The app does actually highlight and pinpoint the different areas you can improve on, as well as telling you what reading level your writing is at and how many words it is, as seen below.
One of the downsides of this editing software is that it doesn’t take style and writer voice into account when editing.
This app basically works to correct the most basic common writing problems. However, if you have a very distinct style or a writing voice that strays from “normal” writing guidelines, this editor won’t be able to detect that and edit accordingly.
Therefore, it’s not as reliable for fiction writers because the voices used in writing tend to differ.
Overall, the Hemingway App editor is a great way to make your writing stronger very quickly. However, keep in mind that this should not be used as an editor for every piece of writing you do.
If you’re someone who wants to use it in order to see which areas you need help with, that’s great.
But you will still need to hire an editor even after using this if you want the best quality writing.
Why are adverbs bad in the Hemingway App?
Adverbs are considered bad in writing because they’re weak and can often be replaced with a stronger, more accurate word to reflect the same idea.
I’m sure you’ve heard the famous quote by Stephen King about adverbs.
“The path to hell is paved with adverbs.”
If you want your writing to be impactful, you have to use strong verbs instead of adverbs in order to get the point across.
These two sentences say the same thing, but the second is stronger due using a better, more fitting verb instead of an adverb.
How does this involve the Hemingway App editor?
The editor is designed to find little mistakes like this in order to help you write with more clarity and intrigue. You won’t have to worry about missing these mistakes when self-editing because the app will point them out for you.
Your Next Steps – If You’re Ready
At this point, you have to make a decision.
Either take action to write your book, or allow yourself to wait, take your time, and probably not get your book done at all.
It might sound hard, but facts don’t lie. The longer you wait, the bigger the chance that you’ll never do your book idea justice.
And even if you think you’re prepared and ready by using the Hemingway App editor, you’re far from it.
In fact, it hardly ever does.
Have you used the Hemingway App editor? Do you know of anything better? Drop those comments below!
You’re here for a reason.
You want to learn how to write better through specific writing tips. That much is obvious.
What you didn’t know is that you’ll learn a whole lot more than that by reading this post – and you’ll find out exactly what if you stick with us.
Writing is a skill you can never be the “best” at. You will always be able to grow and expand on your writing skills. Once you’ve reached what you believe is your very best, there is still mountains more you can improve upon.
That’s part of the magic of being a writer.
But it can be hard to know where you actually need the improvement. Which areas are your weakest and which do you excel in?
It’s one thing to improve your grammar, it’s another to work on bettering the actual writing.
If you’re like me (and almost all writers out there), you likely struggle with insecurity in your writing. Us writers have a tendency to focus on the bad without knowing how to make it better.
These are the writing tips we’ll cover that can help you squash those feelings:
- Write what you want to read
- Write with intention
- Use psychology
- Write as often as you can
- Eliminate distractions
- Research storytelling and story structure
- Always get feedback
- Focus on new ways to phrase common visuals
- Practice writing when you’re not writing
- Use strong language
- Just write to write
Writing Tips from Experts:
- “Just do it.”
- “You’ve got to work.”
- “Write for yourself first.”
- “Quantity will make up for quality.”
- “Tell the truth.”
- “You can’t edit a blank page.”
Let’s get started.
Writing Tips to Help You Publish Faster
If you’re looking for a way to get your book done quickly and with quality, you’re in the right place.
We put together this free training for you to learn exactly the writing tips that helped Chandler Bolt hit bestseller status with all 6 of his books.
How Can I Improve My Writing Skills?
In order to improve your writing skills, you have to commit to writing as much as you can, using different writing exercises, and reading often.
But there is good news to this.
Your writing skills are not stagnant. They change and grow as you do.
Think of it as running. The more you run and train, the better you become. It can be really hard to get going at first but as you learn new techniques and methods for making it easier, you become a stronger, better runner.
Writing is exactly the same.
The way you improve your writing skills is by making a commitment to you, your work in progress, and all the people who can benefit from your book.
How do You Become a Good Beginner Writer?
Being a good beginner writer is about learning the craft of writing and learning specific techniques that make writing good in the first place.
In fact, becoming a good beginner writer is all about reading as much as you can and writing as much as you can.
Just like I mentioned above, the more you can write, the better you will get.
But it’s also about consuming content about becoming a better writer, like podcasts, blog posts, and videos around the craft of writing.
These are our favorite resources for beginner writers:
- The Self-Publishing School Youtube Channel
- Our Podcast, where we highlight success stories and learn how authors made it happen
- Jenna Moreci’s Youtube channel featuring the best fiction and self-publishing writing tips
- DailyWritingTips.com, a blog featuring unique and specific tips for writing
- Hannah Lee Kidder’s Youtube channel including tips from a multi-published fiction author
- This Stephen King video featuring his own tips
- Brandon Sanderson’s lectures from a college classroom
- Chandler Bolt’s personal Youtube channel for productivity advice and more
Writing Tips for Beginners
Being a newbie writer is not easy. These are some of the top writing tips we suggest in order to improve your writing skills as a beginner.
#1 – Write what you want to read
If you yourself wouldn’t pick up the book or story you’re writing and read it with joy, then you shouldn’t’ be writing it.
“But what if I think other people will like it even if I don’t?”
This is a very common argument against this writing tip but it’s not sound. And the reason for that is because you’ll lack the passion.
When you create a story that you love yourself, it comes through in the writing. It’ll read as if the words pop off the page instead of lying flat.
It will also be much easier to write and you’ll want to write it more than if you didn’t enjoy the story or topic as much.
So before writing any book, ask yourself if it’s something you’d have interest in yourself.
If not, skip it.
#2 – Write with intention
All writing has a purpose – and it needs a purpose if you want your writing to get better and read as something enjoyable.
When you have a reason for writing what you’re writing, it becomes so much easier and it feels like you’re fulfilling a purpose rather than just writing a book.
#3 – Use psychology
Yes, there is research involved no matter what kind of book you’re writing.
“But how can psychology actually help my writing improve?”
In order to craft your book in a way that speaks to readers how you intend it to, you have to understand how the human mind works.
Once you know how people interpret different events, messages, and themes, you can weave them into your book so it has more impact when they’re finished reading.
And for the fiction writers out there, psychology helps you create real and lifelike characters that leave readers itching to turn that page and read more about them and their journey.
#4 – Write as often as you can
Even if all you’re writing is a paragraph, it’s better than not writing at all.
And if you can’t add on to your book for whatever reason (maybe a lack of an outline?), write something else.
The point is to write as often as you can because the more you write, the better you will get. It will help you pinpoint weaknesses in your writing and you’ll notice improvements as you write.
Writing more often also allows you to flex your imagination, which is indeed much like a muscle. The more you use it, the stronger it gets and therefore, you’ll be able to write with more creativity.
#5 – Eliminate distractions
In this age of technology and helpful writing tools, there are endless amounts of distractions.
We almost always have our phones within reach, a computer right at our fingertips (literally, if you’re writing), and a TV nearby with access to Netflix, Hulu, and other attention-sucking programs.
If you want to write better, you have to eliminate distractions that keep you from writing.
As mentioned above, the more you write, the better you get. But you can’t write if you’re constantly checking your phone, email, or watching TV.
#6 – Research storytelling and story structure
This is largely for the fiction writers out there, but all writers can benefit from this writing tip of improving your storytelling.
Storytelling and writing are not the same things.
Writing is the way in which you describe what’s happening within the story. The story itself is a whole other piece of the puzzle – and is arguably the most important piece.
#7 – Always get feedback
This will always be the hardest, but most important part of improving your writing. Of all the writing tips to take and execute, this is the best one.
It’s very difficult to gauge your own writing – because you wrote it.
This is much like trying to tickle yourself. It just doesn’t work because you’re the person doing it and is much more effective when someone else does it.
That’s what it’s like for your writing. You need an outside set of eyes on your work.
#8 – Focus on new ways to phrase common visuals
One of the best ways you can strengthen your creativity is by consciously thinking about how you can describe common things in new, interesting ways.
You want to make people see that common item or situation or visual in a brand new light.
The way you can do this is to pause when you’re describing something in your writing and think to yourself, “how else can I explain this to create a stronger emotional impact?”
Here’s an example if you’re still a little confused:
“The sun set behind the trees and the world fell quiet.”
Is this a bad way to describe a sunset and night beginning? No. However, you can easily get more creative about how to illustrate this to readers through words.
“Night yanked the horizon over the sun, silencing the world with its absence.”
This is saying relatively the same thing, but in a way that stops and makes someone appreciate the way in which it was crafted.
#9 – Practice writing without writing
This might sound a bit confusing, so let me elaborate.
When you look at the world, how do you see it? Probably the same way everyone else does.
Here’s an example of how you can practice writing – but only in your own head. This can help you learn how to craft your prose to read in a beautiful, elegant fashion while also being unique and interesting to readers.
Right now, I’m looking out my window into the backyard. It has snow, the trees are bare, and the sky is a muted gray at the horizon, fading to a very faint blue as you look higher up.
This is a very typical visual for winter (especially in Wisconsin).
Now, in order to practice writing without writing, all you have to do is start describing what you see in prose that you would write in your own head.
“Stillness hung in the air thicker than Christmas morning eggnog, the ground covered in a thin sheet of white speckled with brown where the snow failed to make its mark. Bare branches reached toward the absent sun, reluctantly accepting the gray of winter in its place.”
This example is more prose than reality, but this is how you can sharpen those skill by just thinking in this way.
Notice the world around you in the way you would write it in a book.
The more you practice this when you’re on the subway, making dinner, or even watching your family and friends interact, the easier it will be to write those situations in your book.
Think like a writer in order to become a better one.
#10 – Use strong language
This writing tip can completely transform your writing for the better.
It’s the single best way to make your writing more captivating without really adding anything new. You just simply have to replace weak language with stronger, more descriptive writing.
This can take some time to get used to but the more you do it, the easier it will get.
We even make it simpler for you with our strong verbs list. It has over 200 strong verbs and includes the common weak verbs you can replace.
#11 – Just write to write
Forget about your goals. Forget about how anyone else will interpret what you’ve wrote and just write.
Do it for you. Write what you like and what makes you happy.
Don’t think about the future or publishing or where you’re going from here. Just grab that outline, sit down, and write because it’s fun.
Believe it or not, this frees up a lot of mental space and allows you to write without thinking too much, which often helps you write better.
Writing Tips from Famous Authors
What better way to improve your writing than to practice writing tips from those who have mastered the craft?
Here are our top writing tips from professional writers like Stephen King, JK Rowling, and even Margaret Atwood.
#1 – “Just do it.”
Much like we mentioned above, Margaret Atwood is a huge advocate of diving right in and just writing, despite your fears, insecurities, or lack of direction.
As someone who has made waves with a number of her novels, including the masterpiece that landed her an entire TV series, The Handmaid’s Tale, Atwood is someone you want to take advice from.
#2 – “You’ve got to work for it.”
Much to every writer’s dismay, books don’t actually write themselves. If there was a special machine we could plug into our brain that would spit out a perfect copy of the story inside our minds, we would all opt for that instead of sitting down and plucking away at the keyboard.
But that’s not a reality (at least not yet).
Someone who knows the value of hard work when it comes to writing is J.K. Rowling. Perhaps you’ve heard of her?
As hard as it can be, Rowling’s advice is as sound as any. Work for your book. Work hard so others can benefit from the worth you’re holding onto.
#3 – “Write for yourself first.”
Stephen King has an entire memoir-ish that doubles as writing tips simply because writing has been nearly his entire life.
One of the best lessons King says he ever learned was from a newspaper editor he worked for while he was in high school (which he discusses in his memoir/writing book On Writing) and he has maintained that voice in his head throughout each work he writes.
On Writing by Stephen King continues to be a source of inspiration and help for writers everywhere. King has a way of pulling you in and giving you the BS-free advice all writers want – and, in most cases, desperately need.
#4 – “Quantity will make up for quality.”
Ray Bradbury is one of the most quoted authors out there. He shares his methods for writing and how to actually succeed in this industry.
His best advice, in my opinion, comes from his book Zen in the Art of Writing, where he says you have to schedule the time to write – and write daily because quantity will make up for quality.
In fact, quantity is what leads you to quality.
#5 – “Tell the truth.”
Maya Angelou is an inspiration to writers everywhere. She’s a personal favorite of mine and her quotes and advice for both writing and life has always spoken to me on a different level than others.
One of the best writing tips I’ve read of her is the fact that you have to write the truth.
When you have a truth worth sharing, writing becomes easier, more meaningful, and therefore more impactful for those reading it.
#6 – “You can’t edit a blank page.”
Are you sensing a theme within these writing tips yet?
Even Jodi Picoult agrees that you can’t become a better writer if you never write.
The best of all writing tips is this one. You have to actually write if you want to get better because the great writing doesn’t happen on the first try. It happens on the second, fifth, and even tenth.
You first have to write the words in order to make them better.
Writing Tips to Get You Started TODAY
If you’re here, it means you’re ready to take the leap and start writing.
We can even help you have your book outlined today – but only if you take action now.
What are some of the best writing tips you’ve seen or heard? Drop them down below so we can all benefit from them!
You already know.
There is a cost to self-publish a book. Much like with any worthwhile endeavor, you may have to sacrifice some cash in order to make more down the road.
“Remember to think of the cost of self-publishing as an investment, not a cost. [A book is] an asset that earns you money long-term.” – Joanna Penn
However, you may be wondering, “How much does it cost to publish a book?” Self-publishing has broken down a lot of barriers for writers and dramatically lowered the costs of publishing a book, but there are still some involved.
Since the explosion of digital books on Amazon and various other platforms like Kobo, iBooks, and Smashwords, first-time authors and professional authors alike can write, publish and promote their books for less than $1,000. On the other hand, you can spend as much as $20,000 on self-publishing and book marketing costs if you have that kind of budget.
Let’s break down the costs of the self-publishing process. We’ll share some secrets to bring those costs down if you’re budget-conscious.
The Rise of Self-Publishing
If you’re an author dreaming of making your books available to millions of readers, you can make it happen. You only have to invest your time, some money, and a little bit of sanity.
The sky’s really the limit. Self-publishing on Amazon has made it possible for us to all fly with our books. Are you ready to make yours fly?
There are many factors that can affect the cost of publishing your book. What it really boils down to is this: How much are you willing to spend, and how well do you want your book to sell?
The reason I ask these questions is because if you go cheap on everything, you could end up putting out a low-quality book that gets panned by bad reviews, and then it won’t sell.
On Amazon, quality sells. And yes, quality costs money. But there are ways you can creatively cut costs and still put out a quality book. Let’s take a look.
How Much Does It Cost to Self-Publish a Book?
To start, let’s look at a sample budget. Now, these aren’t the high-end numbers for self-publishing. You can spend as much money as you want — this is a list of budget-conscious pricing for getting your book done within a reasonable budget.
I’ll go into each of these in more detail, with links you can check out for yourself and find what works within your budget. Take some time to shop around see where to get the best value for the best price.
How Much Does a Book Cover Designer Cost?
Even though we’ve been told “you’re not supposed to judge a book by its cover,” the reality is, we do it anyway. The design of your book can often determine whether or not people will actually pay for it and read it. Your cover will make or break your book right off the bat.
If there’s any one cost you don’t want to go cheap on, this would be it. While it’s true you can outsource to someone on Fiverr and get a decent cover for less than $20, it pays to do your research and find a better designer who is going to deliver a cover that sells your book.
Cover designers aren’t just talented creators. Many who do it as a living have inside market knowledge and tailor your book cover for your specific genre.
If you do decide to go through Fiverr, check out this video Chandler Bolt recorded on how to use Fiverr.com to outsource your book cover design.
I would recommend setting aside a budget of at least $100. This isn’t to say that spending tons of money will get you an awesome cover, but going cheap may hurt your sales in the long run.
How Much Does a Book Editor Cost?
A high-quality book should always be edited by a real editor. Whether you hire a line editor or copy editor, you should get a professional to look over your work. Don’t try to cut corners here. Even if you’re a professional editor yourself with 30 years of experience, you need to outsource it to a professional editor.
Trust me: A book that contains typos will get bad reviews and sales will drop flat.
Love your book by spending the cash on editing. You can find quality editors at Upwork, or you can find the editors we recommend in our Preferred Outsourcer Rolodex if you’re a member of the Self-Publishing School community.
You can get a very short book, around 15,000 words, line edited for about $150-$250. Ghostwriting, developmental or structural editing will run you much more than that depending on the length of your book and the depth of edits you require — prices run around $2,000 for 100,000 words.
How Much Does Book Formatting Cost?
When it’s time to format your book, if you’re publishing on Amazon, you might want to get it formatted both for print and for Kindle. You can outsource the formatting of both your e-book and print book for around $60-$200. Fiverr has some good formatters at reasonable prices.
I’d also recommend asking fellow authors if they have any great recommendations for book formatters. Once you find a book formatter you really like, hang on to their contact information for future reference.
How Much Does it Cost to Promote Your Book?
When it comes to spending cash on promotional sites, you could empty your bank easily. Set a budget for yourself and go with the best of the best within that budget.
Again, this is a major money suck if you’re not careful; you can throw thousands into it and get mediocre results.
For the best results on several paid launches, I have used:
- Bookzio ($19-29)
- Robin Reads ($35)
- Buck Books ($32)
- BKnights ($5-40)
- Awesome Gang ($10)
- Bargain Booksy [$25 for nonfiction]
- BookSends [$40]
When it comes to paid promotions, do your research on the top sites that can generate a good return. Check out this detailed list of promo sites — some are free!
How Much Does it Cost to Record an Audio Book?
Creating an audiobook can run you anywhere from $300 to $3,000 depending on the length of your book and who you hire to do it.
If you have a novel with multiple characters and want different people to read different roles, it can run towards the high end of the budget, especially if you’re using high-end talent.
If you have a good voice or acting experience and you want to give it a shot, you can purchase the basic equipment and record the audiobook version yourself. Check out this blog post for setting up your recording studio and doing it yourself.
Additional Author Tools and Expenses
Here are some of the basic tools for professional authors. This will add a price tag to your book, but many of these are just a one-time payment. Other tools will bill you monthly.
#1 – Book Publishing Courses
You could also look into taking multiple courses on Udemy. But again, you can spend a fortune on various courses. I would recommend sticking with one course until you complete it and branching out to learn other skills after you get your first big win.
#2 – An Author Website
Building an author platform is a great consideration if you’re looking to expand your business, write blogs and promote your work. You can build an entire website or just a landing page with a call-to-action to get users to opt in. It’s also important to capture leads to build your mailing list. A lead capture form on your website helps you find quality leads and determine your primary audience.
Here are some things you’ll need to look into in order to get started with building a website:
You can sign up for hosting with servers such as Bluehost or Hostgator. The cost would be around $150 per year, which is very reasonable for website hosting. You will get a discount when you sign up for the first year, but pay full price when you renew.
– Domain Name
You can purchase a domain name to secure your brand and start driving traffic to your site. Check out Name.com. A domain name will cost around $10-$15 a year.
– Email Subscription Services
If you want to collect email addresses, you’ll need to sign up for an email subscription service to manage your emails. There are several choices:
- MailChimp: This is free up to the first 2000 subscribers. If you opt in to use their autoresponder service or other upgrades, you’ll have to pay around $10 a month depending on the number of subscribers.
- AWeber: This platform costs $19 per month for up to 500 subscribers.
- ConvertKit.com: ConvertKit has tons of value. Price is based on subscribers but starts at $29 a month for your first 1,000 subscribers. This is now one of the most robust sites for building an email list.
#3 – Publish Under Your Own Company
The ISBN (the 13-digit number above the barcode at the back of your book) lets bookstores and libraries know everything about your book, including the publisher.
If you use a free, generic ISBN assigned to you by CreateSpace or IngramSpark, you’ll limit your chances of a bookstore carrying your own book. Free ISBNs eliminate your ebook from being stocked on Overdrive, for example, which circulated more than 105 million eBooks in 2014 to public libraries all over the world.
Getting your own ISBN and setting yourself up as your own publisher will cost $295 for 10 ISBN codes, but it will help you access all distribution channels.
This isn’t necessary if you’re just starting out — it’s more important to publish your book and get it out there. However, if you are serious about building a self-publishing empire and making a full-time living from your writing, you’ll want to eventually invest in getting your own ISBN codes and setting up your own publishing company.
How to Increase Book Sales
We all want to make cash with our writing. It may not be the only reason we write, but self-publishing your own book is still an investment. And like any investment, it’s nice to get a return rather than taking a loss.
Here is a list of strategies you can implement to increase your book sales and get more eyeballs on your work.
- Run a contest through Goodreads.
- Reach out to podcasters and influencers in your niche and set up an interview. This has proven to be a big game-changer for authors like Hal Elrod and Tim Ferriss.
- Run promos every 3 months. After your book has been at regular price for a while, wait three months and then drop it to 99 cents again. Set up some paid ads every other day for one week. Try using the KDP countdown strategy.
- Blog about the topics in your book. Set up a blog and get more traffic and interest in your work by writing about what you love. Traffic that lands on your page can be directed to your Amazon Author Page and that means more book sales!
- Write another book. Building a catalog of books is a great formula for generating higher monthly income.
- Apply for a spot on Bookbub. Bookbub is the big gorilla when it comes to book promoting. It’s expensive ($300 and up), but it’s a solid investment and you will make your money back on the promo costs. You can check out Bookbub here and sign up for an author account to get started.
4 Ways to Save Money on Your Book Costs
Self-publishing can be expensive if you let it. Here are a few tips to help you save on your book costs, both now and in the future.
#1 – Save Money on Book Formatting (if you dare!)
Write your ebook with Scrivener. Not only is Scrivener the number one author tool for writing and organizing your manuscript but, if used effectively, it can save you money on formatting costs. If you’d like to learn more about how it works, check out this Scrivener webinar hosted by Joseph Michael with Chandler Bolt.
Joel Friedlander’s The Book Designer also offers a bundle of Book Design Templates for both fiction and nonfiction. These templates cost money but will save you money in the long run from outsourcing. I have personally been using these to do the formatting for my books. It can be time-consuming at first but once you get the hang of it, you’ll save money on formatting costs.
#2 – Build a List of Email Subscribers
Although this topic deserves its own blog (or book), I’ll mention it here because if you build up an email list now, it can save you thousands of dollars in promotional costs down the road.
When you launch your next book, you’ll have hundreds or thousands of fans waiting for your next release. Not only that, but these are the fans who will leave reviews if they join your launch team and purchase your book the first week it comes out.
This drives your rankings up, and this drives sales even further. Sound good?
You can start to build your email list by including a link to a lead magnet in your ebook. A lead magnet is an offer of a free, valuable piece of content that readers will get if they go to your website and subscribe to your email list.
#3 – Barter When You Can
If you’re just starting out with self-publishing and you’re on a tight budget, look to barter services when you can. By coming to a deal where you exchange your services or something you have that is of value to people, you can save yourself lots of money.
As a writer, maybe you have some copywriting skills. See if you can share some of that in exchange for design work from a cover designer. But it doesn’t have to be just raw skills that you barter — Dana Sitar got a cartoonist friend of hers to do the illustrations for her book in exchange for $50 and 10 percent of direct sales of the book. It’s a decision she doesn’t regret, as the illustrations get her raving reviews.
If you’re on a budget, you don’t need to fully cut back on the quality of your book. See if there are possibilities to cut a deal and get the service you require to set your book apart.
#4 – Write a Great Book!
This might seem like an obvious tip, but paying attention to the quality of your book throughout the writing process is going to save you money. The better your book, the less you’ll have to spend on editing.
You will also gain a solid reputation as someone who writes really well. This means loyal fans will spread the word about your book and your blog, your email list grows, and any future books you release will practically promote themselves.
Your Next Step
We are in a great era of self-publishing. Anyone can turn their dream into a reality with just a few months of hard work, a bit of cash, and a great book idea.
We’ve broken down the cost to publish your book so that you have a rough idea of what to budget. Writers have gone on to publish bestsellers with as little an investment as $1,000, while others have required up to $20,000.
It all depends what you prioritize and if you can save costs in a manner that doesn’t decrease the quality of your book.
While money matters, remember the reasons you want to self-publish your book: to get your message out there, build authority, and add something new to the world. Spend what you can to make your book as high quality as possible. If your audience likes it, you’ll be sure to hit your goals.
The best way to learn just what it takes to get your book published is to join your free training. Chandler Bolt will walk you through exactly what you need to start working toward your dream of publishing a book!
How much are you willing to pay to get your book written, published, and selling well? Let us know in the comments below!
You don’t want to mess up self-publishing.
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.
Publishing a book is so much easier now than it ever used to be, especially with Amazon self-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.
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.
This guide will cover:
- Creating a Kindle Direct Publishing Account
- Crafting Your Book Title & Subtitle
- Writing Your Book Description
- Choosing the Right Keywords
- Selecting the Right Categories
- Uploading Your Manuscript
- Creating a Book Cover
- Pricing Your Book
Let’s get started!
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.
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?
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.
Amazon Self-Publishing Done Right
Sure, anyone can upload a book and self-publish it through 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 – Creating a Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) Account
First, let’s get you set up with your Kindle Direct Publishing account.
- Go to https://kdp.amazon.com and register with either your Amazon account or with your email address.
- 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!
- Once your tax information is complete, click “Finished” and return to the main page.
- Your profile is complete!
With your KDP account setup, proceed to setting up the details of your book.
#2 – Crafting 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.
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.
#3 – Writing Your Book Description
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:
- 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:
You can find more amazing description examples with these books:
- Champion Mindset: Tactics to Maximize Potential, Execute Effectively, & Perform at Your Peak – Knockout Mediocrity! By Patrick King
- Novice to Expert: 6 Steps to Learn Anything, Increase Your Knowledge, and Master New Skills by S.J. Scott
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.
#4 – Choosing the Right 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.
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. You can research the right keyword phrases by using search tools such as: 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. When it comes to publishing a successful book on Amazon, having a perfect book cover 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. 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. 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. You can get legitimate and honest reviews from: Experiment with these strategies to pinpoint the price for your book, it will drive long-term success. If you want to become a self-published author, you must be fluent with platforms such as Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing and more. For that reason, you must take action now because you can never have too much knowledge when it comes to self-publishing your book. Go ahead right now and get started. You can never start too early. Having your account set up and ready to go will make all the difference when you’re ready to publish! Make sure to follow the above steps closely so your account is set up the way it’s supposed to be. If you already have your book written, edited, and ready to go, that’s amazing! You’re already almost a published author. But if you’re still working on it, put the pedal to the metal and start writing! We know writing can be really time-consuming but if you put your mind to it, you can utilize your weekends to write faster and get more done. The sooner you finish, the sooner you can publish! That’s right. We have some free training all ready to go for you. Chandler Bolt put together this video training guide that will help you learn what it takes to go from blank page to self-published author in as little as 90 days! Take advantage of this offer and join your FREE webinar training to get started toward your dream of becoming a self-published author. After all, you can’t get there unless you start.
#5 – Selecting the Right Categories
#6 – Uploading Your Manuscript
#7 – Creating Your Book Cover
#8 – Pricing Your Book
Your Next Steps for Amazon Self-Publishing
#1 – Create your Kindle Direct Publishing Account!
#2 – Get that book written
#3 – Utilize your FREE training!
What about self-publishing is still confusing to you? Let us know so we can help you more!
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.
You can research the right keyword phrases by using search tools such as:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
When it comes to publishing a successful book on Amazon, having a perfect book cover 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.
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.
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.
You can get legitimate and honest reviews from:
Experiment with these strategies to pinpoint the price for your book, it will drive long-term success.
If you want to become a self-published author, you must be fluent with platforms such as Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing and more. For that reason, you must take action now because you can never have too much knowledge when it comes to self-publishing your book.
Go ahead right now and get started. You can never start too early. Having your account set up and ready to go will make all the difference when you’re ready to publish!
Make sure to follow the above steps closely so your account is set up the way it’s supposed to be.
If you already have your book written, edited, and ready to go, that’s amazing! You’re already almost a published author. But if you’re still working on it, put the pedal to the metal and start writing!
We know writing can be really time-consuming but if you put your mind to it, you can utilize your weekends to write faster and get more done. The sooner you finish, the sooner you can publish!
That’s right. We have some free training all ready to go for you. Chandler Bolt put together this video training guide that will help you learn what it takes to go from blank page to self-published author in as little as 90 days!
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You might be about to make the wrong decision.
It’s scary. You want to or have already written a book and now it’s time to decide between traditional versus self-publishing.
Which can help your book see the light of day?
Traditional Versus Self-Publishing
It’s a tough, yet brave decision. Sitting down to get your message out in the world will be one of the most challenging yet rewarding things you do.
But now that you’ve made this decision, you may be wondering:
Should I approach a publisher and go down the traditional route? Or should I self-publish and become an indie author? Which is better, traditional publishing versus self-publishing?
Before the age of the internet, the only way a writer could get their book in front of millions was to send a book proposal and a query letter to a traditional publisher or agent. The writer hoped that day’s gatekeeper had drank their morning coffee, woken up on the right side of the bed and actually given your letter and proposal more than a 10-second glance.
Unfortunately, the likelihood of that happening was slim to none.
This resulted in brilliant people like yourself being denied the opportunity to share their experiences, stories, and knowledge with the world.
Talk to an Expert About Traditional Publishing Versus Self-Publishing
If you want to skip right to the good stuff, give one of our experts a call, explain what you want out of publishing a book, and they can help you decide which avenue is right for you.
This is a FREE coaching call designed to help you understand what you want to get out of this process.
The Publishing Industry Is Shifting
Thankfully, this industry is changing for the better – at least for those of us who are savvy in self-publishing.
With the development of online marketplaces like Amazon, the publishing process has changed. You can distribute your book to everyone, regardless of what some traditional publishing house thinks about your idea.
You have a book inside of you and the world needs to read it!
|You need to spend excess time landing an agent||X||✓|
|You need to market the book yourself||✓||✓|
|You keep 100% creative control||✓||X|
|You keep 100% of royalties||✓||X|
|You keep full rights to your work forever||✓||X|
|Costs are covered||X||✓|
|You have 100% control of the pace of production||✓||X|
|You work at your own pace||✓||X|
|You control when your book stops "printing"||✓||X|
The publishing world has changed, and it’s time for you to reap the benefits. Here are seven reasons why self-publishing is the best route to take—and why you’ll think twice before dealing with a publishing company again.
#1 – You Don’t Have to Wait for Permission
With self-published books, you do not have to wait for anyone to give you the green light.
- You decide when and how to publish a book.
- You decide whose hands your book gets into.
- You decide how successful you are.
In other words, you don’t have to convince any gatekeepers to allow your book to reach the global market.
“But, don’t traditional publishers have a good idea for what will sell or not? I mean, if they reject my book, they’re probably right that no one would want to buy it.”
Have you ever heard of Tim Ferriss’s book “The 4-Hour Workweek”? It has been a New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestseller for over four years. It sold nearly 1.5 million copies and has been translated into 35 different languages.
Oh, and get this: It was rejected by the first 26 publishers it was presented to.
Maybe you’ve also heard of a certain children’s book, the one about a young boy with a lightning bolt scar on his forehead who discovers he is a wizard. The ”Harry Potter” franchise is a patent bestseller, with the last four books in the series being the fastest-selling books in history.
Yet it was rejected by 12 publishers in a row, and was only picked up because the eight-year-old daughter of an editor demanded to read the rest of the book. Even then, after the editor agreed to publish, they advised J.K. Rowling to get a day job as she had little chance of making money in children’s books.
Little did they realize the publishing success they had stumbled onto.
Now, just imagine all the other authors out there who stopped after the first 10 or 20 doors slammed in their faces, believing the lie that they didn’t have a profitable idea.
You cannot allow other people to determine your success.
Self-publishing gives you the avenue to do that. You and your readers decide the worth of your words, rather than one person at a publishing firm who may not realize the potential publishing success in their hands.
#2 – You Can Publish Your Work Quickly
If you were to take your book to a traditional publisher, it would take years to publish.
For example, it may take up to six months for you to even hear back about the book proposal. And assuming they accept your proposal, it will take at least another year before the book is actually published.
With self-publishing, you can produce your content as quickly as you want. And in the Amazon Kindle store, you can publish a new book whenever you want. That way, you can share your work as quickly as you create it!
#3 – Bring Home the (passive) Bacon
Traditionally-published authors are typically paid an amount of money up front. However, once the sales come rolling in, they only get a small cut of the earnings.
Why? Because they have to pay the publishing house, the editor, the marketers, the designers, etc.
But when you self-publish, you take in most of the earnings (save for the money you actually choose to spend on marketing, book production and publishing). On Amazon, for example, self-published authors receive 70% of the royalties for an eBook priced between $2.99 and $9.99. Now that isn’t bad!
#4 – You Form Invaluable Connections
Self-publishers around the world have gathered online and in person to provide a community that supports one another in publishing their work.
These connections become priceless as you meet other up-and-coming influencers like yourself.
“Wait—so where would I meet these people?”
Because self-publishing requires that you find your own editor, cover designer, formatter and launch team members, you end up connecting with people throughout your whole writing experience.
Self-published authors also gather on social media platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Reddit.
The camaraderie allows people to expand far beyond what they could have done on their own, or what they would have been limited to with a traditional publisher.
#5 – You Control Your Objective
So much of a book is influenced by the motive that fuels it.
- Is your motive to make money?
- It is to launch a new career?
- Is it to share your story?
- Is it to become a public speaker?
- Or, is it simply something to cross off your bucket list?
Remember, writing a book is hard work. And nothing is worse than seeing your hard work be transformed into something you didn’t want. When you self-publish, you are able to preserve the dignity and genius of your objective. No one is pressuring you to sell more books, or to taint your message so that it will reach wider audiences.
You are not pigeonholed or made to become someone you’re not comfortable with.
You write as you, and for you. And that is liberating. That is self-publishing freedom!
#6 – You Control Your Creative Concept
There are horror stories about authors whose ideas and voice became unrecognizable after they went down the traditional route.
When you work with a traditional publisher, you don’t just sell them your manuscript, you sell them your idea.
Your book may become something you are not comfortable with. Or, your dreams for a sequel or a revision may be completely squandered if it does not comply with the motives of the traditional publisher.
But as an independent author, you retain total creative control.
You are free to be expressive with your work. You are free to be vulnerable and controversial. You are free to be you.
When you self-publish, you also control who you write for. If you sell via the Amazon Kindle store, you can choose, and then tweak, your categories and keywords. You determine your marketing efforts.
With 45 percent of e-book sales going to indie authors, audiences are showing that they respect and want to purchase the ideas of everyone—not just those endorsed by traditional publishers.
#7 – You Control Your Future
Most people looking to write a book want to earn more money, gain more freedom or have a platform to share their ideas.
When you self-publish and have complete ownership over your ideas, you also have complete ownership over your future.
There is no traditional publishing firm to stop you from selling a supplementary online course that includes material from your book, starting a speaking career, re-releasing your book with a hardcover or audiobook, or even releasing an updated version of your book.
You determine the trajectory of your book, your ideas, and your publishing career when you self-publish.
Even Big Names Choose Between Traditional Publishing VS Self-Publishing
Though there are some benefits to traditional publishing, even some well-established and successful authors admit that the joys of being an indie author outweigh a traditional publishing deal.
So much, in fact, that big name entrepreneurs who have large followings and could easily get a traditional publishing deal are opting to go the self-publishing route.
Why Go With Traditional Publishing?
As you can probably tell, we here at Self-Publishing School are huge advocates of being in control and ensuring you get all the money you deserve for the work you’ve put in.
That being said, sometimes traditional publishing will be the best option to fit your needs.
Here is why some people might opt to go with traditional publishing instead of reaping the rewards of self-publishing.
#1 – You have connections in the publishing industry
The chances of landing and agent and making it in traditional publishing is very low.
Because this market is very saturated and publishers really only publish certain types of books, those who have better luck with traditional publishing are those who have connections within the industry.
Bascially, if you know someone who is an agent or an editor at a publishing house, it might be beneficial for you to work with them in order to get published through that house.
#2 – You want the label
The best perk when it comes to traditional publishing is typically the fact that you can say you’re a traditionally published author.
Because you have to go through a number of different processes and rejections in order to “make it” with traditional publishing, it can be seen as a sign that you’re a better writer than others.
However, as much as it can sound impressive, it doesn’t always mean it is.
#3 – Distribution
Book distribution is much easier as a traditionally published author, mostly because you don’t have to deal with any of it.
Traditional publishing houses have very wide reaches and because of this, your book can reach a lot more stores in more places than if you traditionally publish.
#4 – Less responsibility on your part
If you’re the type of person who just wants to write the book but don’t want to worry about the title, cover, editing, or more, then traditional might be for you.
Keep in mind that traditional publishers do purchase the rights to your book when you get a book deal and therefore, can make you alter anything in it to meet their needs.
Meaning, your plot and characters can drastically change. If you’re okay with that, then traditional publishing works for you.
#5 – No upfront costs to you
Keep in mind, this doesn’t mean traditional publishing is necessarily “free.”
Typically, those who get traditional book deals receive an upfront payment of varying amounts. From there, the rest of the expenses fall on the publisher.
However, those upfront payments aren’t often big enough to cover your living expenses for the length of time it takes to get your book finished and out into the world. And that means you’ll still have to continue to work another job while writing and meeting deadlines in order to get your book done.
#6 – A slow and steady process
This can be both a pro and a con. If you’re not in a rush to get your book out into the world, then the slow and lengthy traditional publishing process might be a good thing for you.
Ultimately, Self-Publishing Will Change Your Life
It may be that, like quite a few writers, you’ve dreamed about working with a big-name publishing house all your life, and nothing will satisfy you until you get that experience. There is nothing wrong with that.
If you’ve identified this need early on, then maybe it’s best for you to go down the traditional publishing route.
But let’s say you win the book lottery and get published. There is still no guarantee that your publisher’s efforts will get your work in bookstores or into the hands of the editors of your favorite literary magazines and newspapers. There’s also no guarantee in sales volume.
However, self-publishing gives you an alternative path. It gives you an assured chance of getting your book out there. You have a better chance of seeing success in your sales and making an impact if your message resonates with enough people. Not to mention, you get to stay true to the vision of your book.
Self-publishing allows you the freedom, money, community and control to shape your life into one that you adore.
So, start writing your own bestseller today.
Like what you read and want to learn more? We’re holding a FREE online workshop where Chandler is revealing the exact tactics and strategies he used to write and publish six bestselling books in a row…and use them to build a seven-figure business in less than two years. Click here to save your spot now!
The character development in your story is vital for its selling.
Think about it.
Why do people continue to purchase books in a series? It’s not always because of the storyline.
In fact, more often than not, it’s because someone fell in love with the characters and care so much about them and their journey that they’re willing to follow them through the entirety of it.
That is why you need to put an emphasis on the character development in the book you’re writing – or preparing to write.
Stick with us through this post and you’ll learn exactly how to accomplish character development in a way that will make readers think about your characters as if they were real people.
We’ll cover these main character development concepts in detail:
- Types of Character Development
- 12 Valuable Character Development Tips
- Character Development Exercises
- Character Arcs
- How to Create Strong Character Arcs
Once you nail all of these, you’ll be writing strong characters in no time.
Talk to an Expert to Discuss Your Character Development
Did you know we have our experts on hand to help you with your books – for free!
Just book a call for a FREE 20-minute coaching call and our experts can help you gain clarity
What is Character Development?
Character development is the process and execution of creating a fully rounded, complex, and lifelike character within your fictional writing with the purpose of making readers invested in them and their life or journey.
But before we get into the extensive details, I’m going to cover what constitutes a well-developed character as well as the different types of character development you may consider.
What is a Well Developed Character?
In order to have a well-developed character, they need a full backstory, personality traits reflective of it, realistic actions and emotions, along with being highly relatable to the average reader and as complex as a real person.
If you can’t imagine your characters as a real-life person, they’re not quite complex enough to be well developed. The key with character development is crafting your characters to feel as if they’re people you know who just live far away.
Get comfortable with thinking of them as real and you almost always will have a well-developed character.
Types of Character Development
When it comes to learning how to write characters – and write them well – you have to understand which type of character you’re dealing with.
These are the different types of characters to write:
Don’t be alarmed if you think this is a lot of different types of characters. After all, we all have people in our real lives who would fill these character “types” and that’s why it’s important for your book to include them.
Without them, you can’t go through with character development and expect a captivating cast.
But let’s help you understand what each type of character brings to the story.
Here’s a chart describing the types of character development you’ll have to execute on.
|Character Types||Character Development|
|Protagonist||This is your "hero" character, or the main character. Their main purpose is to solve a problem that affects them directly and push through against all odds. This is the character your readers want to root for.|
|Antagonist||This is your "villain." They're the bad guy who wants to stop your protagonist in order to fulfill their own agenda. Sometimes the antagonist can be an organization or group of people instead of a single character.|
|Secondary||This is your "side" character/s. They get a decent amount of page time but are not the "stars" of your novel.|
|Static||This is a character who remains the same throughout the story. They don't really change who they are or how they operate.|
|Foil/Mirror||This type of character is one that is the opposite of your protagonist. Their personality is different, their habits are opposite, and they often butt heads with the protagonist in non-lethal ways.|
|Stock||This is much like "stock images" online. They're a character who is relatively flat and easily recognizable as a stereotype in fiction. An example would be the "bad boy" type or the "tough girl" or even the "comic relief" character.|
|Dynamic/Round||All protagonists should be dynamic and round. These characters undergo physical, mental, or emotional changes throughout the story. They are complex, deep, and lifelike. All characters that are not stock or static should be this type.|
With this information, you can better understand which character development to focus on with each of the fictional people you create.
12 Actionable Character Development Tips
Now that you know which type of character you’re focusing on here when writing your book, let’s dive deeper into the character development methods you can use and exercises to help you get it right.
#1 – Create a background for each character
Our realities are shaped by where we’ve been, where we are, and where we want to go.
That being said, the one with the most influence on our lives is where we’ve been – our past.
The same is likely true for your character. Based on what their life was like prior to the start of your novel, they’ll have different interests, quirks, fears, and more.
Your job is to fill out what their life has looked like up until the beginning of your book.
#2 – Know your characters’ strengths and weaknesses
One of the biggest means of influence over your characters will be their strengths or weaknesses.
We, as humans, constantly face our strengths and weaknesses on a daily basis, even in the smallest of forms.
What your characters are good at and what they’re not great at will affect how they perceive different events, what actions they choose to take, and can affect their overall character arc (which we’ll touch on later).
If your character’s strength is talking to strangers and gaining their trust, this might be an asset for them throughout their journey. However, if that is your character’s weakness and they’re forced to do so, it can cause conflict for them.
These strengths and weaknesses will shape your character arc and the plot as a whole, so know them well before writing.
#3 – Create nervous ticks or habits
If you’ve paid attention to humans for long enough, you’re aware that we all have certain habits we don’t even realize we’re doing when we’re nervous.
Me? I pick at the skin around my nails. It’s a pain (literally) and I never notice I’m doing it until later.
This can be a key characteristic that will make your characters feel more real and help make them more relatable to your readers, which will make them want to give you those 5-star reviews.
#4 – No character can be perfect
It can be really hard to write your favorite fictional person as having flaws. After all, we want people to love them, right?
But a “perfect” character is not lovable – they’re hateable because it’s not realistic.
The more you try to make your character “flawless,” the less readers can relate and therefore, they’ll like them less. You have to build flaws into your character just like we all have drawbacks in real like.
#5 – All characters need realistic motives
No matter which character they or what they want in your story, they need to have a real and valid reason for feeling this way.
Take He Who Shall Not Be Named from Harry Potter for example.
Voldemort (woops!) wants to kill Harry. That much we should all know – even if you’ve never read or seen the movies. But if he was just trying to kill Harry Potter for the sake of murdering a child, it wouldn’t’ make sense.
Yes, he’s evil, but he also has a valid reason for wanting him dead, right?
He has to kill Harry Potter because he’s the only person who was able to defeat him before – and because the prophecy says so.
If your characters – no matter how minor they are – don’t have a motive that makes sense, readers will be pulled out of the story and end up questioning what’s happening, and not in a good way.
This is largely how plot holes arise so in order to avoid them, stick to this character development method.
#6 – Give each character a unique feature
This is particularly for those of you writing Game of Thrones-esque novels with a large number of characters, but it’s important for others as well.
When writing a book, you want your readers to easily visualize and differentiate the cast. You want each character to stand out as individuals.
A perfect way to do this is to give each person an identifiable feature.
For example, let’s use Harry Potter again because you probably know what the main characters look like.
Harry has glasses. Hermione has fuck teeth (up until she has them shortened a bit too much – and this is only in the books for those of you about to argue), and Ron has flaming red hair.
These are very distinct features that can help you picture them as wildly different characters.
Now, you don’t have to give each and every character some crazy hair color or style, but try not to have your entire cast look the same.
If you have a main character with brown wavy hair, have the next with blonde curly hair, etc.
Keep in mind that siblings can certainly look similar!
Take my own spreadsheet for my work in progress below as an example.
#7 – Develop a wide variety of personality types
Meaning, don’t create all of your characters to be the “dark and sarcastic” type or the “tough guy” type.
You have to have a wide variety of personalities – just like in the real world.
You can even back up their personality with real-life psychology. As an example, I have two characters who both have a tragic background.
However, they don’t process that trauma in the same way. One character takes on a very withdrawn approach while the other hides his pain with humor. This gives them very different personalities despite having similar histories.
#8 – Match your character’s history with the effects of it
This is when some research will come into play, which should be required anyway. Looking into some psychological effects of trauma can help you accurately and realistically dive into character development.
Now, not all characters go through trauma, but there are other big life events that can shape how they behave.
If you have a character whose parents were very strict growing up, they may be a bit of a rebel and lack the decision making abilities others have – mostly because they never learned how since their parents made those choices for them.
#9 – Make secondary characters foil types
This is largely to help with personality contract within your novel. Most of the time, this will happen naturally if you’re giving each character a unique personality but it’s great to keep in mind anyway.
If you have secondary characters (characters who get a decent amount of page time but are not main characters), craft their personality types to show the opposite of the main characters’.
Why? Because you want to firstly create more diversity and secondly, create some non-plot-specific conflict.
#10 – Give each character a distinct voice
We all speak differently and that means your characters should too. Depending on where they’re from, they could have different accents, slang, and even phrases they tend to use regularly.
Think of a friend of yours for a minute. What are some specific phrases they use a lot?
It’s likely you were able to think of something in just a few seconds because it’s so unique to them and something they say a lot.
Your characters should be developed in the same way.
If you write two characters from very different areas of the world and they have the same style of speaking, your audience will be pulled out of the story because it’s not realistic. Their voices have to be consistent and not the same.
#11 – Create a diverse cast in every way
I’ll be honest, there is a very real problem in literature when it comes to diversity.
You can debate this all you want, but coming from someone who reads many books, it’s a very real issue that only you and other writers going forward can correct.
Your book should be just as diverse as the real world.
If you don’t have characters with varying skin, hair, or eye colors along with varying body types, disabilities, and even mental illnesses, your characters are not diverse enough.
You do not have to write a book about these things in order for you to include them in your novel.
For example, one of my main characters has high levels of anxiety. His storyline does not revolve around this mental illness, but it is there, seen, and can affect his plot.
#12 – Avoid stereotypes
This is really a “do not do” tip versus a “must do” tip. The reason for this is because so many writers feel as though they need a “side character” (or even a main character) but is too lazy to do the real work.
Which means they create a stereotype of a specific type of person that can oftentimes be harmful without the author even knowing.
A great way to ensure you never have offensive stereotyped characters is to use a sensitivity reader or make sure you have a diverse group of beta readers who can speak on behalf of the characters you’ve developed.
What is a Character Arc?
A character arc is used to describe the inner and even outer journey, which can be physical, mental, emotional, or otherwise that a character experiences throughout the duration of the story or plot.
You thought you were done learning about character development, didn’t you?
You’re not! In addition to crafting well-rounded characters, you also have to think about including arcs for them.
How to Create a Character Arc
At the very least, your protagonist, or main character, requires an arc for their storyline and journey to be captivating and satisfying for readers.
As an example, I’m going to use Harry Potter from that series simply because it’s widely known and his character arc even within the first novel is distinct.
Harry Potter starts the novel as an 11-year-old kid suffering from emotionally abusive relatives who care for him due to his parents passing away.
But by the end of the movie, Harry has discovered he’s a wizard, learned of his prominence in the wizarding world, and even taken on Voldemort himself (well, sort of).
This character arc is distinct in that his mental and emotional journey from start to finish is wildly different. Harry Potter is not the same at the end as he was in the beginning – and this remains true throughout each book in the series.
When your character comes out at the end of the book as a transformed person in certain senses, it’s a character arc.
Here’s an example of what a character arc looks like on paper and how you can utilize plot elements in order to further your character’s development.
Your Next Steps – But Only if You’re a Serious Writer
It’s time to get serious about your book. If you’re here, it means you want to learn how to write your book to the best of your ability.
That’s exactly what we can help with.
We put together this FREE training for you to understand what it takes to write and publish a book.
Make sure to watch this because you can create incredible characters all you want, but they’ll never see the light of day without publishing.
What is your favorite part about character development? Which characters of yours are you most proud of and why? Comment below!
A good book idea is rare.
As much as you think all of your book ideas are fantastic and anyone would love to read them…you might be completely wrong.
And I’ll explain why shortly but first, if you want to skip ahead and discover if your book idea is indeed a great one, take this intuitive quiz that will tell you exactly how it fares against the competition.
What makes a good book?
A good book is a combination of high passion on your end, making your readers feel intensely along with a structure that toys with their emotions and an overall message worth sharing.
In order to come up with a good book idea, you have to understand what makes a book great and then work backward from there.
This might seem a little vague but in reality, this combination isn’t easy to come by.
A good book takes time, effort, and the right formula to get right. If you want to leave readers feeling stunned in the best way (and ready to give you those coveted 5-star reviews), it’s essential to first start with a great book idea.
Here are some of the top qualities that make a book good:
- It invokes high levels of emotion in the reader
- It has an overarching theme or message
- A strong, pleasant voice
- A structure that builds on itself
- Quality writing that’s enjoyable to read and visualize
Once you know what your book needs, it’s time to figure out what you should write about.
What should I write my book about?
When determining what you should write your book about, start with figuring out if you want to write fiction or nonfiction.
If you want to write nonfiction:
Fiction and nonfiction are basically two different worlds when it comes to writing.
You have to determine if you’re someone who wants to write fiction or nonfiction. This decision is typically simple to make because if you don’t have an interest in creating new worlds, realities, or making up characters, fiction is not for you.
On the other hand, if you love to write guides and how-tos and maybe even self-help related books, nonfiction is going to be a better fit for you.
If you want to write fiction:
You have to start by determining what kind of fiction you want to write.
Which genre will be your battlefield?
These are just the more popular fiction genres:
- Fantasy / Sci-fi
- Thriller / Horror
- Young Adult
In order to choose, pick the genre you enjoy reading the most. That means if you love fantasy and typically read that more than anything else, this will be the genre you’ll enjoy writing the most.
Once you know what you want to write, you have to learn how to come up with a good book idea in it.
Coming Up With a Good Book Idea for Both Nonfiction and Fiction
We’re going to separate these two simply because the process is so different. Coming up with fiction book ideas differs greatly from nonfiction because they cover much different information, key elements, and reader intent.
— How do I come up with a fiction idea for a book?
Fiction is amazing because you can come up with pretty much anything and it can be formed into a good book idea.
Let us help you break it down.
#1 – Use writing prompts to spark your creativity
If you have a hard time coming up with book ideas, then what you really need is something to prompt your mind into thinking creatively and imaginatively.
And that something is a writing prompt.
Writing prompts are very short ideas or story concepts for you to use in order to get started. Think of them as the catalyst for your imagination.
We actually have a list of over 200 original fiction writing prompts created for this specific purpose.
You can fill out the form below to download them! These prompts might contain the beginning of your next book idea.
#2 – Do some people watching
Head to a park or airport and just sit down to watch people. This might seem a little odd (or even a tad bit creepy) to you but it’s often a great way to get real-life writing prompts.
You may overhear a snippet of conversation or witness someone doing something interesting.
Take a notebook and jot down notes in order to flesh it out into a full story later. Consider it more like research for your novel.
#3 – Bounce ideas around with a friend
If you have a creative friend you love to chat books and book ideas with, just sit down and bounce ideas around with them.
Two minds are greater than one is most cases – including coming up with book ideas.
You can ask them to come up with a character and their background, and then you can give their life a reality with problems and a main conflict.
This alone can get you started on a book idea!
#4 – Play the “What If” game
This is my favorite way to come up with book ideas and it’s based on the concept of saying “what if…” and thinking up a crazy situation in this world or one of your own making.
Not only does this open your mind to otherworldly possibilities, but it’s also great practice for your imagination.
Here are a couple examples of how to play the “What If” game and how it can yield interesting book ideas.
|Start the Question||Detailed Answer|
|What if...||...animals started going extinct and nobody knew why.|
|What if...||...crops were suddenly being produced at 5x their normal rate.|
|What if...||...someone actually found the cure to cancer.|
|What if...||...climate change started having DRASTIC effects.|
#5 – Pick a different time period and think about issues that could arise
This specific technique is designed to free your mind from common problems in this time. Because it’s all you’ve known, your mind can try to come up with problems deserving of a book, but it’s a little difficult to make those seem interesting.
Instead, give your brain a shock by thinking of problems from another time period, whether that’s the past or the future.
You might have a book idea hiding in the past that you’ll never be able to see if you’re only looking in the present.
#6 – Use Pinterest to find interesting pictures
Then write a book about their reality.
One thing I like to do most often is type “character inspiration” into the Pinterest search bar.
Then, once the images load, I pick someone who stands out to me.
From there, I do some deep thinking about a world they could fit in, what it looks like, what the big problems are, and even go so far as to create a job and personality for that character.
You can do this very same thing with “fantasy world” or “sci-fi world” if you want to think up some books revolving around those ideas.
The results often give you images that can spark a small idea – which we can help you develop into a fully-fleshed story.
#7 – Make up a character you’d like in real life
From here, you’ll craft a story about their life in their own reality.
This exercise is perfect for coming up with a good book idea because generally, you want your protagonist to be a character people like.
And when you create a character you genuinely like and would be friends with, other people will feel the same.
While the story and plot have to be intriguing, the character is sometimes the biggest selling point. A book with great characters will stand out.
— How do I come up with a nonfiction idea for a book?
You’ll have to unleash your inner child.
Yes, I’m serious. Coming up with good book ideas involves a lot of creative thinking and suspension of disbelief.
Here’s how you can come up with great book ideas many will love to read.
#1 – Determine your passion
Writing a book without passion is useless.
Your distaste or worse, your indifference, will bleed through the pages and be obvious to anybody reading it.
If you want to come up with a book idea that not only other people will love, but that you will also love, it has to be something you’re passionate about.
The process of writing a book can take some time and a lot of dedication, rereading, and editing to get right.
It will only do well and be met with praise if it’s something you put a lot of passion into.
#2 – Think about what you know a lot about
What are a few topics you seem to know more than the average person about?
The reason you have to figure this out is that it will help you determine the best book idea for you to write.
Here are some questions you can ask in order to uncover what you’re knowledgeable about:
- What are people always asking you advice for?
- What are key concepts you find yourself repeating a lot?
- What do people tell you you have a lot of knowledge about?
- What are your “specialties” both at work and at home?
These questions will help you determine the common theme within the answers. Once you know what you have a strong knowledge of, you can narrow down your book ideas.
#3 – Brainstorm many main concepts
You don’t just have to limit yourself to what you know a lot about. Instead, brainstorm a very large number of main ideas.
These can be anything from your hobbies to your work expertise to even your view of the world and how it works.
Anything that comes to your mind and sparks your interest is worth writing down.
When you do this, you’ll typically find that there’s a main topic or overarching theme that sticks out the most. Usually, this is what you should write a book about.
#4 – List book concepts you’d want to read yourself
What are the nonfiction books you’re drawn to most? This will often give you insight into great book ideas for you to write yourself.
The reason for this is because if you wouldn’t read the book you’re writing, then you shouldn’t be writing it.
This technique works backward from your own interests in order to determine which book idea you should push forward.
#5 – Write down the things you daydream about
What do you most often find yourself spacing out about?
When your boss snaps to get your attention or when your partner has to wave a hand in front of your face to bring you back to reality, write down what you were just thinking about.
It can be anything.
Even if it’s just what you’re going to make for dinner, write it down because you want to get into this habit.
After a week, take a look at all those thoughts and you’ll usually find a pattern amongst them. That’s the book idea you should write about.
#6 – Start with a narrative about your day-to-day life
This is a very unique technique that can help you discover what’s important to you from a day-to-day perspective.
In order to do this, open a blank document and just start writing about your everyday life – but do this as if you were writing a story about yourself through narrative. Meaning, from a third person perspective.
Here’s an example of this book idea finding exercise:
Start writing yours and your mind might just come up with a book idea for you to take to publication.
Other Methods for Coming Up With Book Ideas
Everyone is different and all of our minds work differently. And that means if you want to come up with a good book idea, you’ll have to try a number of different methods to determine what works best for you.
Here are some alternative methods for coming up with a book idea that aren’t listed above.
#1 – The snowball method
This is a technique that helps your ideas build on one another – much like a snowball builds on itself when you start rolling it through the snow.
#2 – Your own twist on a heavily-searched topic
This is for you nonfiction writers out there. In order to find topics that are searched a lot, hop on Amazon, choose “Books” from the search bar drop-down, then click the search icon or hit enter (yes, without typing anything in the search field).
This will bring you to the generic “home page” for books. Scroll down a little bit and locate the left sidebar with the different categories like “Popular in Books,” “More in Books,” and more.
From here, choose “Top 20 Lists in Books” as seen below.
You can easily scroll through the different sections in order to get an idea for what’s the most popular.
Now, most of these will be fiction, as it’s the top-selling genre.
If you want to find nonfiction-specific top sellers, repeat the first two steps in order to go back to the books “homepage.”
Then scroll down until you find the “Books” category with specific genres beneath. You can click on the genre you have the most interest in, like “Self-Help” in the example below.
From here, scroll down until you find the “Bestsellers” section in which you can discover the hottest titles and topics they cover so you can shape your book idea based on what will sell, like in the image below.
#4 – Write down any and all ideas
Even if they’re tiny and you think they could never make a great book, write them down.
You never know what could blossom into sometime incredible. Maybe JK Rowling never thought an idea about a wizard in school would be interesting – and look what happened there!
Next Steps – If You’re Serious!
If you have a book idea – or even if you don’t, we can help.
Book a call with one of our experts in order to discuss if your book idea is good and how you can dive deeper and uncover a final idea for your book.
What is your book idea? Comment below and let us help you iron out the details!
Writing a book is intimidating.
When you’re not sure where to start, it can paralyze you. But we have the best top steps to start writing a book today so you can become an author!
Beginning the process of writing a book and presenting it to a worldwide audience is very exciting – but also a little scary.
You have amazing book ideas that you want to share with the world, and you’re more motivated than ever to educate your readers about them!
But once you begin, you may realize that writing a book is hard work. There are many obstacles that can prevent you from writing and can create stress leading to anxiety.
For example, you may find yourself in front of a blank page unable to type and thinking of stressful questions like:
- “How do I even start writing a book?”
- “Do I need to blog first?”
- “Should I start without an outline”?
Writing a book shouldn’t be this hard! But many get overwhelmed because they lack a writing process.
Start Writing a Book for Success with FREE Training
If you want to skip right ahead to what will really help you start writing, then you’ll want to check out this free training we put together for you.
How to Start Writing a Book Step-by-Step
If you’re feeling demotivated when it comes to starting your book, you’re not alone. Writing can still be one of the hardest parts for most authors even if they have been writing for a long time!
Fortunately, there are some extremely effective techniques for how to start writing a book and overcoming these hurdles.
These are the seven effective strategies to start writing a book as soon as possible:
- Set up a creative environment
- Develop a writing habit
- Create an outline
- Focus on only one project
- Maintain your focus
- Stay accountable with the “calendar” method
- Deal with resistance
We’ll cover what you can put into action to assure you show up with a game plan to get your thoughts out of your head, down on paper, and into the minds of your readers.
Ready to start your journey to becoming an author? Let’s go!
How to Start Writing a Book for Beginners
Believe it or not, writing a book isn’t as difficult as it’s made to seem. At least, getting started isn’t.
We have a complete guide that will cover best practices to start writing a book asap – even today if you sit down and put your pen to paper, so to speak.
#1 – Set Up Your Creative Environment
One of the most important things to remember if you want to start writing a book is designing an environment that allows your creativity to flourish unhindered.
Create an environment that is designed to help you stay focused. Whether you prefer noisy environments or absolute solitude, it’s up to you to determine which will get you into the writer’s flow.
Here are a few ideas to create your ideal space for writing:
- Have collections of inspiration. Decorate your work area with inspiring quotes or pictures that house references to deep work.
- Unclutter your space. Create an uncluttered open space to help organize not only what you need, but also your thoughts.
- Be Flexible. Your creative space doesn’t need to be one spot, it can be anywhere. Even your favorite authors have discovered their best ideas in the most unexpected places.
- Buy a calendar: Your book will get written faster if you have set goals for the week/day. The best way to manage this is by scheduling your time on a calendar. Schedule every hour that you commit to your author business. What gets scheduled, gets done.
- Create a music playlist for inspiration: Many authors can write to the sound of their favorite tunes. Is there anything that gets you working faster? Do you write better with deeper focus when listening to rock music or classical? Set up several playlists that you can use to get into the flow of writing.
- Try Multiple Locations. You won’t know how creative you can be if you don’t try different spots to write. Maybe writing from your bed is your ideal creative space. What about working in a noisy cafe? Change up your location frequently particularly if you feel creatively spent.
#2 – Develop a Writing Habit
The number one reason authors fail to publish a book is because they never finish the book they intend to publish. Why?
Because they didn’t form a good writing habit.
Feeling overwhelmed when writing a book is natural, but you must remember that this journey always begins with the first page. And in order to write your first page, you must take action.
This is why having a writing habit will develop your writer’s flow.
Your writing habit can start small. Don’t overwhelm yourself thinking that you must write your every thought on the page. You can start with a few paragraphs, a sentence, or even just a word.
The purpose of this exercise is to commit to your writing session every day until it has become second nature.
#3 – Create an Outline
A clear outline provides clarity and direction to your story. It is also the roadmap for your book that keeps you on track and ensures you have all your ideas organized in a natural flow. And that’s not even to mention that it helps you write a lot faster, too.
When you get stuck, you can always go back to your outline to find what comes next regardless of whether the book is 100 pages or 300 pages long. It will help you see the overall picture.
Before you write, spend some time creating your outline with these steps:
- Brainstorm: List every thought and story idea you want in your book by creating a mind map.
- Organize: Combine all related ideas together.
- Order: Arrange ideas into subsections from general to specific.
- Label: Create main and subheadings that will eventually be your chapters.
#4 – Work Only on One Project
One challenge many authors experience is taking on multiple new projects when they should be focused on one because their minds are full of amazing book ideas. Although enticing, the division of attention can spread your energy thin producing bad writing or worse, failure to complete your book.
But don’t worry. We’ve all experienced shiny new idea syndrome before!
There’s only one clear solution to this problem: Cut the clutter and focus on one project until it’s finished.
Be fully committed to your project by doing the following:
- Create an action plan that breaks down the entire project into realistic portions to complete.
- Set hard deadlines for each and every phase of your book.
- Learn to say “NO” to any additional projects no matter how intriguing they appear.
#5 – Maintain Your Focus
Once you get into the flow of writing, you want to remain focused through the duration of your writing session. Any break to your concentration can set you back 20-30 minutes and disrupt your flow. We become less efficient when we are distracted, and it can end up taking twice as long to complete our writing.
Thankfully, there are very effective techniques that can help you remain centered and in the moment.
Leave the distractions behind by doing the following:
- Create a writing schedule. Schedule your writing for the same time each day. This conditioning will develop your writing habit until it becomes as natural as knowing when to brush your teeth.
- Use the Pomodoro Technique. This is a time management strategy that breaks down work into intervals separated by short breaks. With a clock ticking, you will less likely be distracted by email or social media.
- Turn off your phone. Your phone is the most addicting device that steals your precious attention. Don’t let it take that from you, turn it off.
- Have a Task Management app. Task Manager apps, like Todoist, helps you organize your tasks by their time and priority, so you know exactly what to do in what order the next day.
- Disconnect from the Internet. Want to ensure you don’t get distracted by email notifications, Facebook notifications etc? Disconnect your computer from the Internet and enjoy distraction-free writing time.
#6 – Stay Accountable with the “Calendar” Strategy
Jerry Seinfeld is one of the most popular comedians of all time, and he attributes his success to his unbelievably strong writing habits. In the early days of his career, Seinfeld was asked how he managed to have such great content.
He said, “The way to be a better comic is to create better jokes, and the way to create better jokes was to write every day.”
Seinfeld used the “Calendar Method”, otherwise known as the “Don’t Break the Chain” method, and it worked like this:
- Get yourself a calendar, and hang it on the wall.
- For each day you write, draw an X on the calendar for that day. By the end of the week, you should have a row of Xs at the end.
- If you miss a day, start over and see how long you can go before breaking the chain.
If you can keep this chain going, you will have your book written faster than you can imagine.
#7 – Deal With Resistance
Resistance is a common obstacle that holds us back from creating. It is a form of fear that intimidates you from writing and can throw you off your writer’s flow. Everyone has encountered this awful feeling, but it doesn’t have to defeat you.
Here are a few ways to deal with resistance:
- Read morning affirmations. Affirmations are powerful snippets of positive words that set the tone and atmosphere for writing. An affirmation could be a quote from a writer, a motivational speech from a public figure, or an inspirational video.
- Free Flow for 10 Minutes. Julia Cameron, the bestselling author of The Artist’s Way, called these morning pages, and its purpose is to clear your mind of all the anxiety and junk rolling around in your head onto a piece of paper. Write anything. You don’t have to edit, publish, or have a word count, it’s simply a 10-minute exercise to clear out heavy thoughts and prepare you for a more productive day. This is best done with pen and paper instead of typing into a document with your digital device.
- Exercise. Exercising is not only good for your health but will help keep you mentally sharp. Working out will increase the blood flow to the brain which will sharpen your awareness and give you the energy you need to tackle your book.
Your Next Steps
If you want to become a published author, you must take ownership of your writing habits. By following these seven strategies, you can have a completed book within months and be on your way to becoming a successful writer.
But what can you do right now to ensure the success of the book you’re going to start writing? We’ve got them for you.
#1 – Join your free training!
That’s right! We have free training that’s just for you! Chandler Bolt will walk you through everything you need to go from blank page to published author in as little as 90 days.
#2 – Schedule your writing days
Once you’re registered for your video training, you’ll want to go ahead and schedule your writing days from the get-go. This will not only help you know when to carve out time in your schedule going forward but having a visual representation of when you get to start writing will do wonder to motivate and inspire you!
We typically advise our students to start with 30 minutes per day. Whether that’s before or after work is totally up to you. You can even write during your lunch! So long as you commit to your scheduled times, writing a book will be a breeze!
#3 – Put together some motivational aids
Writing a book is fun but it can also be a lot of work. That means having some motivational and inspirational materials to help you envision your future as a self-published author will help you overcome and slumps you may find yourself in.
Remember to keep those aids handy so they’re always there to keep pushing you forward!
Are you ready to start writing a book? Let us know what it’s about and when you want to publish below!
You probably don’t want to hear what I have to say about writer’s block.
But first, let’s uncover what it really is and how writer’s block can affect you.
Writing is hard enough on its own without writer’s block crawling into your brain and snatching up the words you really need to get that chapter done.
But the thing is, we’ve all been there before.
Every writer has experienced the struggle of forcing words onto a document one by one, dragging them kicking and screaming from the corners of your mind only to be left with a single sentence…one hour later.
And you don’t even really like that sentence.
What’s Causing Your Writer’s Block? QUIZ!
In order to cure an illness, you have to know what’s causing it first, right?
Before you take another step or scroll even an inch further, take this quiz because without knowing the why, you can’t possibly find a cure that’s best for your writer’s block.
Being Informed is the Key to Beating Writer’s Block
If you want to cut right to the chase – and save some time – we can sum up what writer’s block is all about: not being prepared.
The more you know and understand about the publishing process, the less you’ll become blocked because you’ll have clear direction – one of the biggest reasons writer’s block encompasses your mind.
And to do that, we put together the free training you need.
What is Writer’s Block?
Writer’s block is a nasty hindrance where you just can’t think of what to write no matter how hard you try and how much you challenge your mind – and a blank document quickly becomes your worst enemy. Even the best authors out there still deal with this from time to time.
It can slow down your progress and end up taking much longer for you to write your book.
And with so many reasons for writer’s block to take hold – like insecurity, a lack of direction, or maybe even just a bad writing day – it can put you down and complicate the whole writing process.
Getting rid of it is not only the best thing for your book’s progress, but for writing faster and with more quality overall.
If you, much like the rest of us, have ever dealt with writer’s block, here’s how you can sever its annoying restraints for good!
What causes writer’s block?
Underlying issues like insecurity, a lack of direction with your plot, or even too many potential options for your book can cause writer’s block along with your creative “tank” being empty.
While this might sound bad, the best part about all of these is this: they’re preventable.
How to Overcome Writer’s Block by Prevention
Why do we wash our hands frequently during flu season?
That’s right. To prevent succumbing to debilitating illnesses.
And why do we get our oil changed regularly even when our vehicles are (seemingly) running well?
Right again! To prevent breaking down on the interstate and destroying our vehicles from the inside out.
That’s exactly why writer’s block is best beat by preventing the darn thing in the first place!
But how do you do that? It’s not like you can wash your brain or change its oil.
Well, not in a literal sense, you can’t. But you can try a few of these methods to keep your creative juices flowing like Niagara Falls in the springtime.
|Reason for Writer's Block||How to Cure Writer's Block|
|Insecurity||Look up interviews with highly successful authors talking about when they first started writing.|
|No Plot/General Direction||Stop, create an outline for your book, and discuss it with a writing friend.|
|Creative Block||Go out and do something creative that's not writing-related.|
#1 – Outline Your Book
If there’s one technique that’ll prevent writer’s block the best, it’s having an outline.
These handy tools you didn’t pay attention to creating in school are essentially roadmaps for your book. They cover what happens next and what specific information you need to include.
There are a number of ways you can create your outline; using sticky notes, writing it in bullet points, or even using one that’s attached to a writing software.
How can you not know what to write next if you already have an outline telling you exactly that?
Many of us are stuck and blocked simply because we’re not sure what we should be writing next. Your imagination is at a standstill. You may just be divided between which path your book could potentially take.
Creating a thorough outline squashes those issues so you can write fluidly, quickly, and with quality.
When you’re not focused on what to write next, you can turn your attention to the quality of your writing while pumping out those words much faster, rendering writer’s block inactive.
#2 – Research Beforehand
There’s nothing worse than getting into your writing groove only to freeze because you’re not 100% certain of the facts you’re putting down. Your mind goes blank and the words stop coming.
But since you’ve outlined your book, you know what you’re going to write before you even type that first word. Which means you know the research you need to do beforehand.
Having all the facts makes writing a breeze, and it can also kick-start some fresh ideas and a more imaginative way of thinking.
Knowing more about a subject enables you to better explain it and writer’s block will run screaming for the hills.
#3 – Write More Often
How often do you write right now? One day a week? A few days a week?
The more you write, the more effortless writing becomes. It’s like running, or exercising in general; the more often you do it, the easier it gets.
Not writing regularly weakens those creative muscles. It makes it harder to think in an innovative way, and so you spend hours on a single page simply trying to find a better way to phrase something that’s not even critical to your story.
Keep those writer muscles strong by writing as often as you can – every day, even! If you’ve got the time to flex your creativity, do it.
Using a tracking sheet like the one above is a great way to schedule out your goals and then execute in a way that makes you WANT to write every day.
This particular sheet is from a NaNoWriMo blog post, but it serves as a writer’s block cure as well.
How do you get over writer’s block?
So you didn’t survive the preventative measures. That’s okay! We’ve all been there at one time or another and thankfully, we also managed to get through it.
Writer’s block may be fickle and frustrating, but it’s not without weaknesses.
All you have to do is find a way to break through to your true creativity and these are some of the best ways to destroy writer’s block and find the words again.
#1 – Write Anyway
I know what you’re thinking:
“But I can’t! I’m blocked!”
Most of the time, you may just be out of practice and need to find your rhythm again. Even if you’re struggling to get the words out, write them down anyway.
You may not like it and you may go back to change what you wrote later, but it’s the single best way to force writer’s block into submission.
It can’t win if you still write despite its grip on you.
So get those words down and after a little while, writer’s block will scurry back into the darkest corner of your mind and stay there. Finding your flow is sometimes all you really need.
#2 – Read
Nothing can get your mind in a creative state more than reading. Picking up a book – any kind of book – and spending 30 minutes reading can spark your imagination and light a fire under you to get back to writing.
It’ll also motivate and inspire you to work harder to reach your goal of publishing a book.
When you’re holding someone else’s hard work in your hands, it’s proof your dream can come true. It’s justifying everything you’ve worked so hard for.
That may just be the push you need to shove writer’s block from your mind and get back to your work.
Never underestimate the power of a good book.
#3 – Get Moving
Exercise isn’t just great for your body, it’s also powerful for your mind.
Scientifically speaking, exercising more not only increases your mood, but your creativity gets a boost as well!
It’s not always easy to coerce yourself into going for a run or even doing a few sit-ups at home when you just settled into your comfy couch to write, but if writer’s block is preventing you from actually getting any productive wordsmithing done, it could make a huge difference.
You can simply do some jumping jacks or take a quick walk around the block. Stimulating your creativity physically might just beat writer’s block for you!
#4 – Take a Walk or a Drive
Mindless tasks help your brain get out of a funk because it frees it from focusing on your daily tasks, the insecurity you may feel about writer’s block, and even the pressure of finishing your book.
The more you can let your mind go, the more creative it becomes. Plus, a change of scenery never hurts the creative process.
Always looking at the same place or even sitting in the same spot to write can be an issue. It’s hard to come up with new ideas and think creatively when you never have anything new fueling your imagination.
Taking a walk or going for a short drive can help you recharge so you can kick that writer’s block to the curb and get back to writing again.
#5 – Talk it Out
Are you struggling with something specific? Sometimes the confines of your own mind isn’t the best place to work through your writer’s block.
You may be the type of person who needs to verbalize your concerns in order to work through them. And that means you need to get up and actually speak to someone (or even yourself!) about what you’re struggling with.
Writer’s block feeds on uncertainty. The more you question what you’re doing, the worse it’ll get.
By talking through it out loud, you’ll have a new perspective. This will often offer fresh solutions that’ll make you eager to get back to that keyboard.
#6 – Find Inspiration
There are a lot of ways you can go about getting inspired again. While inspiration isn’t necessarily required to write, it certainly helps your drive and imagination.
These are a few ways to get rid of writer’s block if you feel lost:
- Research related images on Pinterest
- Read through your outline
- Read a related book
- Create a vision board for your book
- Create a list of goals for after your book is complete
- Listen to an influential Podcast
- Watch or read successful author interviews
Inspiration is specific to each person. Meaning, it may take a few attempts before finding the method that works best for you.
Anything that rouses your excitement to write again tramples that pesky writer’s block.
#7 – Put Your Phone Away!
Are you really experiencing writer’s block or is that “block” in the shape of your phone?
A lot of us love to use the excuse of “writer’s block” in order to justify spending far too much time perusing our social feeds.
While there’s nothing wrong with wanting to catch up with friends and stay in the know, sometimes it can drag you away from achieving the goal of writing your book.
What you need may not be a cure for writer’s block at all, but something completely different: self-control.
If you struggle to focus on the task of writing and you somehow always find your phone open to a mind-sucking app, it’s a good idea to switch your phone to silent and shove it aside for the remainder of your writing time.
This alone might be enough to get rid of what’s really blocking your stream of words.
#8 – Reread Your Writing
As mentioned above, getting into a rhythm is essential for keeping writer’s block at bay. When you suddenly can’t come up with the right words to describe what’s going on in your mind, it could be because you’ve lost momentum.
Taking some time to reread your previous writing can help by putting you in the same frame of mind you were in the last time you had to stop writing.
This will catapult your brain back into the right place so you can make progress and write easily again.
#9 – Stop Comparing Your Writing
“Comparison is the thief of joy.”
Theodore Roosevelt knew as much and we’d wager to bet it also steals any progress you could be making.
The more you worry about how your writing compares to someone else’s (who usually has much more experience than you), the harder it will be to write anything.
That’s where writer’s block comes from in this instance.
You’ll find fault with every word and every sentence even though your work is fantastic the way it is.
Remember that nobody can write the story you are. Your voice and perspective are what makes your book unique in the first place. Changing this will only pull you further away from your identity as a writer.
And most importantly, comparing your writing to someone else’s isn’t productive or helpful for anyone.
#10 – Think of the Big Picture
Writing and publishing a book can be a long, hard process. Sure, the first week is exciting and you want to write all the words but that motivation probably won’t last through the entire process because it is work, after all.
You’ll have rough days – including moments when writer’s block takes hold. What’ll get you through them the easiest is taking a step back and thinking about the big picture.
Ask yourself some of these questions to get rid of writer’s block:
- Why did you want to write this story?
- How will it benefit you?
- How will it benefit others?
- What message do you hope others receive?
Pushing yourself to view your writing in terms of the end goal will not only motivate you to get started and put some words down, but it’ll also help remind you of your true purpose for telling this story.
How Long Does Writer’s Block Last?
Writer’s block lasts as long as you allow it to, which can often be days or even weeks if you don’t act on it and try these preventative and curing methods.
Ultimately, the longer you put off dealing with the underlying causes of writer’s block, the longer it will last.
Face your writer’s block head-on in order to get rid of it for good and get back to creating something that will resonate with people from all over.
Overcome Writer’s Block by Staying Informed
The more you know, the less you have to worry about and since that is such a major cause of writer’s block, we’re offering you this FREE training where Chandler Bolt walks you through exactly what you need to know to write, market, and self-publish your book within 90 days!
Ultimately, preventing and beating writer’s block should be at the top of your to-do list if you want to write and publish a book in a reasonable timeframe. With this annoyance behind you, your mind will be free and it may even stir up more creative ideas for other writing projects.
Do you have any effective methods for getting rid of writer’s block? What works best for you and how do you cope with this nuisance?
Just because you wrote a new book doesn’t mean that your book is guaranteed to sell.
Harsh? Maybe. But it’s true. And here at Self-Publishing School, you first have to learn the truth before taking action.
Even if your book is the next Great American Novel, it won’t be a success if it doesn’t get into the collective conscious of the public.
This is why you need good book marketing tactics to back it up.
Book Marketing for Self-Published Authors
Marketing takes planning, organization, and consistent action; it’s hard work. But the good news is that marketing is also about fostering connections and relationships, which can be rewarding to you and your fan base.
And since you’re the one who knows your book from cover to cover, your backstory, your reasons for writing it, and who your ideal reader is, it’s your duty to put a plan in place to best connect with your intended audience and share your story.
We know, we know…you’ve put a ton of effort into writing, editing, and getting your book ready for publication that the thought of adding another layer of “work” is not the most appealing idea.
But realize that if you launch your book without a marketing plan, FAR fewer people will read it.
It will hamper the success of the book you’re working on now, as well as others you plan on publishing in the future. So if you dream of becoming a New York Times bestselling author, or if you want your book to help you reach other lifestyle goals, a book marketing strategy is your essential key to success.
And if you want a quicker, easier way of understanding what’s in this blog post, check out your free training.
Book Marketing Strategies
Having a quick overview of exactly what you can do and how much time and effort each will take can help you better plan for your book marketing plan.
Here are our recommended book marketing strategies and what you need for each.
|Book Marketing Strategy||What You Need||How Long it Takes||Price|
|Launch Team||- dedicated people|
- fans of your book
- those with a following (preferred)
|1 week - 1 month depending on your platform size||Free|
|Email List Promo||- an email list|
- a deal or promotion
|As little as a single day to put everything together and send the email.||Free, unless you pay for email marketing services|
|Giveaway||- something valuable|
- somewhere to host it
|1 week to get the word out and for people to enter||Anywhere from $10-$100 depending on the giveaway prizes|
|Live Reading||- just yourself|
- a live streaming service like Youtube or Facebook
|1 week to plan and get the word out, only 30 minute to execute||Free|
|Book Trailer||- video editing software|
- video editor
- graphics for your book
|Anywhere from 1 week to a few weeks depending on your own video editing skill level||Free - $100 if you hire someone to create the trailer|
|Speaking||- a high-quality speaking gig|
- a wicked speech
|1-3 weeks of preparation and 30 minutes - 1 hour of execution||Free, unless you pay for your spot on stage|
|Reading Challenge on Social Media||- a set of rules for the challenge|
- a platform to host it
|1 month or longer depending on the challenge itself||Free, plus the price of the books|
Free Book Marketing Plan
Having seen and been involved in so many book launches ourselves, we know what works and what doesn’t when it comes to book marketing. We’ll walk you through a play-by-play of exactly what you need to do so that your readers can find your book and buy it.
We’ve broken this guide down into three main sections for learning book marketing:
- Pre-Launch: Building Your Book Marketing Launch Team
- Pricing Your Book for Maximum Sales
- Post-Launch: 8 Strategies for Selling More Books
Let’s get started!
Pre-Launch: Build Your Book Marketing Launch Team
The first step of preparing for your book launch, and the marketing behind it, is to build your launch team or street team, as it’s also commonly referred to.
What is a launch team?
The ideal launch team is a dedicated, hand-selected group eager to make your launch successful. If you use your team’s talent and communicate well, there’s nothing your launch team can’t accomplish!
#1 – Launch Team Size
The first step is to determine the projected size of your book marketing launch team based on the size of your audience.
Your audience is anyone interested in you, your book, and your product.
They could be five of your lifelong friends, members of your community, big organizations you’re connected to, social media followers, email subscribers, anyone who might be interested in what you’re sharing.
If you have a smaller following, we suggest you aim for a launch team of 10-50. Those with hundreds in their network can aim for 100-250 team members.
How to Find a Launch Team
If you don’t have much of a following right now, start by looking at your personal inner circle— your family, your close friends—then branch out to their connections, families, and colleagues.
You can reach out to peers from college, your volunteer work, or even your first job. You may even consider parents at your child’s school, fellow dog owners, or members of your yoga class.
Even though you may not know these people well, they are a part of your network, and you may be pleasantly surprised to discover that they’re inspired by your book and would be eager to share it.
Once you’ve completed this exercise, you should have an initial list of potential launch team members!
#2 – Recruit Quality People for Your Launch Team
Now that you’ve determined your potential recruitment pool, the second step is to initiate contact and gauge their interest level. The most important lesson to consider about your book marketing launch team is that QUALITY trumps QUANTITY.
One top-quality, dedicated team member trumps a handful of mediocre ones.
To begin recruitment for your launch team, create a simple questionnaire process that describes your book, your expectations of the team, and questions asking:
- Why are you interested in supporting my book?
- What part of my book speaks to you?
- What specialized skills can you contribute?
- What’s your available time commitment?
- Who are influential people you can reach out to?
- Why would these influential people be interested?
To sweeten the recruitment deal, feel free to offer a free signed copy of your book or an inclusion in the “acknowledgments” section.
You can easily do this through email, or through online forms like Typeform.
#3 – Record a Welcome Video
Take the time to record a warm welcome video for your new supporters! In your video, first, congratulate your team for being selected and express gratitude for their help.
Then, detail your expectations, your unique mission for writing your book, and why you want to share it with as many people as you can!
This welcome video will help you create a more personal connection with your book launch team, and show them a bit more about why you’re creating it and what message you’re trying to convey.
Be sure to send it to everyone who completes your questionnaire
#4 – Establish a Communication Style
Here’s the secret to a successful book marketing launch team: Effective communication.
Communicate with your team regularly to keep them focused on weekly tasks, progress, and innovative ideas by doing the following:
- Strive to send one email per week preceding launch then increase it to three or more during launch week.
- Use a Facebook group to engage, share ideas, and post feedback. Set the tone by posting “Dos and Don’ts” to keep conversations focused and positive.
- Boost morale and build rapport by sharing inspiring quotes, gifts, and goofy photos to keep energy high and build vital connections.
No matter which mode of communication you’re using, remember people like to be treated well. Always make sure your team knows how grateful you are to them and their dedication!
#5 – Book Marketing Launch Team Assignments
You can’t just build up a catalog of supporters and not use them, though. You have to give them small assignments to help you with launching and the book marketing process in general.
It might feel weird telling people to help you, but don’t worry about it! They’re here because they want to support your project, and as long as you’re gracious and ask nicely, they’ll be happy to support your work.
#6 – Utilize Talents
Your team members will have a different variety of skills and talents, and it’s your job to effectively manage your team by assigning work based on their strengths.
To identify your team’s talents, write a post during the introductory week and say the following:
“If you have any special talents or connections you’d like to lend towards my book launch, please comment on this post and let me know. I’m looking for ways to help spread my book’s message to a wider audience.”
#7 – Have Fun and Say “Thank You!”
Your launch team will commit weeks of their time, energy, and talent, so make sure you thank each and every person for their contribution! Ensure that each person on your team feels valued and appreciated for their efforts.
And most importantly, let them know how to get your book for free (or at least at a deep discount)! Which brings us to…
How to Price Your Book
One of the most important factors in how successful your book launch is will be how you price it.
To find out how to price your book for success, we recommend reading Book Launch.
But for the sake of this article, here are some of Self-Publishing School’s biggest secrets that will get your book to soar up the Amazon’s charts:
- If you have a sizable audience, we recommend launching your book for $0.99, and then increasing the price to $2.99 or higher after about a week.
- For first-time authors, we recommend Amazon’s Free Book Promotions for your book launch.
Although you won’t get paid by putting your book out for free, realize that it will be featured on another author’s page which instantaneously increases your exposure and recognition.
Once the free promotion has ended, switch your book’s price to $0.99 for the following week, then slowly increase the price by $1 per week until sales stagnate.
Post-Launch: 8 Book Marketing Strategies for Selling More Books
All marketing—no matter which market or industry—is fundamentally about people and making connections. Part of pitching your book will be figuring out how your book relates to your readers and how they will benefit from it.
Now that your book is out in the wild, you want to get as many people to it as possible. Here are the eight best strategies for doing just that.
#1 – Build Your Book Website
Can you imagine if you came home one day and your house was…missing? Well, that is what an author’s life can be like without a website to post fresh content. You’ll always be missing a home where you can park your books.
Many authors think they don’t need a website because they can promote their books through social media or the author platform on Amazon.
Sorry, not exactly.
There is a huge difference. Having an author website is the difference between renting or buying a piece of property. When you rent, you are living in someone else’s space. It doesn’t belong to you and they can cancel your lease at any time.
Maintaining your own website on a hosted server with your domain name is the same as having that piece of real estate. You can customize your site your way, publish your own content, and you are always in complete control of how it looks and what gets published.
And you can also set up a Google Alert so you can be notified about where your name and your book show up online. If someone gives you good feedback or a stellar review, reach out and thank them and ask them to link back to your book’s website.
#2 – Build Your Email List
There is a saying going around that says: “the money is in the list.” Why? It’s simple. A list of followers who are in love with your writing will be the first to line up when you have a new product to sell.
These people are essentially your customers.
Your email list is yours. It doesn’t belong to Amazon or social media. You control what you want to say, how you say it, and when. Imagine if every time you had a new book ready to launch, hundreds or thousands of people were waiting for it so they could get it first.
If you are serious about your book marketing your current project and all future ones as well, building your list should be a top priority. Nothing else comes close. Although building a list takes time, in the long run it is the easiest way to market.
These are the true fans that will get the word out and be the first to leave verified reviews after buying your new release at the special price of 0.99. But that is just the beginning.
You can continue to build your list by including a reader magnet at the front and back of your book. Get people hooked on your brand and then keep them there by writing your next book, and then, including them in your next launch. As your book reaches more people, and you get more signups, your marketing capacity grows…exponentially.
#3 – Reach Out to Influencers
When it comes to book promoting, nothing can have a bigger impact on your book than influencers through book endorsements.
What is an influencer?
Influencers can be podcasters, bloggers, or authors with strong email lists. It’s someone with an established platform that can get you noticed if they notice you.
An influencer is someone who has a lot of promotional weight and can spread the word about your book to thousands of people with just a brief mention to their email list, on their blog, or by sharing on social media, for example.
Influencers have a long reach. What you can do is identify the influencers in your niche and reach out to them. Tell them who you are and ask if they can help to promote your latest book.
A lot of the time, they’ll want a free copy to read and review. You can also offer to support their future endeavors as a way of giving back.
Influencers can have a major impact on your exposure as an author, so try to set up interviews in your hometown or reach out to someone online and offer to do an interview so you can deliver value to their target audience.
Guest post blogging on an influencer’s blog or website is another way to market your book.
For example, if you wrote a book on recipes for Italian food, you could try connecting with people in the Italian cooking niche. They may have a blog, podcast, or a webinar on which you want to appear.
#4 – Leverage Two Social Media Platforms
Social media is a powerful way to promote your book to potential readers. We can engage with thousands of people just by hitting a few buttons. But with social media sites, the big scare is the amount of time we can get sucked into trying to do everything.
If you try to connect with everyone, you’ll match up with nobody.
When promoting and marketing your book, you can’t be everywhere doing all things at once. That is why we recommend you choose two social media sites to work with and post your content regularly on these two sites.
For example, you can have a YouTube channel and post weekly videos covering a wide range of topics centering around your book. After a few months, you could build up a library of content that will bring in the right audience, engage with new subscribers, and even create a course out of your videos.
Here’s an example of Youtube content from a writer currently working on her first fiction novel. She created a Youtube channel to engage fellow writers, who are also readers:
By creating a Youtube channel and giving advice about writing, she’s appealing to writers while also advertising that she is also a writer and has a book in progress.
Switching gears to Facebook, you can promote your book or blog using Facebook ads that drive new readers to your Facebook page or your book’s website. You could also post popular quotes or snippets of material from your upcoming book.
With Twitter, you can post multiple times a day with brief quotes or messages under 280 characters. Twitter has proven to be a powerful platform for authors when it comes time to promote and market a book.
And if your book is more business-focused, you may find that LinkedIn works best for you, since it allows you to connect with new readers on a more professional platform.
We recommend choosing two social media platforms and focusing on consistent engagement. This will keep your book’s appearance fresh and invite new people in to check out your work.
Using Specific Hashtags to Grow on Social Media
In the writing community, there are a number of very popular hashtags authors and writers use to connect with each other. Why make connections with other authors? Because almost every other is also a reader!
Here are some of the top hashtags you can use on each platform:
- #amwriting (as in, “I am writing”)
- #fantasywriter, #scifiwriter, #contemporarywriter, etc.
- #writerprobs, #writerproblems
- #amwriting (as in, “I am writing”)
- #fantasywriter, #scifiwriter, #contemporarywriter, etc.
- #writerprobs, #writerproblems
- #writersofig, #writersofinstagram, #writersofinsta
- #amwriting (as in, “I am writing”)
- #fantasywriter, #scifiwriter, #contemporarywriter, etc.
- #writerprobs, #writerproblems
#5 – Get on Bookbub
Bookbub is the cream of the crop when it comes to promoting and marketing your book. In fact, you should submit your book for promotion as either free or for 99 cents right after your book launch.
Bookbub has a massive following and can get your book delivered to thousands of readers.
It really is the “Big One” when it comes to book marketing. The cost isn’t cheap and can run you anywhere from $200 to $2,000 for a promo, depending on the genre, category, and the price of your book.
But is it worth it?
For example, if you are running a promo for 99 cents in general nonfiction, you could potentially sell, on average, 2,000 copies of your book. Not only will you make a profit, but this could bring in hundreds of subscribers and leads to your email list. From there you can upsell readers on your other books or even a course if you have one.
#6 – Interviews and Podcasts
A local radio or podcast interview can introduce you to new readers. While this may sound intimidating, you can pull this off like a pro with a little preparation.
Look to local colleges, podcast hosts, or local radio stations for interview opportunities (Pro Tip: Hosts love to interview up-and-coming authors, so you may be surprised at the many offers that come your way when you reach out).
Reach out, let them know a little bit about your book and why it might be interesting to their audience, and include a free sample of it so they can see if you’d be a good fit.
If you have a press release describing what your book is about, feel free to include that as well to give them more context.
Then be sure that when you go on, you present a great story about your book and get their listeners excited to read it!
#7 – Book Clubs
Local book clubs are another goldmine of new readers; you already know they like books! Find and connect with these groups. You can offer to attend a meet-and-greet and hand out copies of your free signed book.
You can also get your book listed in Facebook Groups and other groups dedicated to readers. There are also paid lists, such as Buck Books, that can reach tens to hundreds of thousands of readers. Book Launch also teaches what lists are out there, and which ones are the best to use.
#8 – Write Another Book
Publishing another book is great for brand building. In fact, it’s much harder to market just one book unless it is a ground-breaking phenomenal masterpiece.
Your book may be great, but you can compound that greatness by writing more books, preferably in a series.
With every new book you put out there, you increase the chances of your work getting recognized by influencers and people online who are hanging out in all the places you can target for promotion and sharing.
Become a Book Marketing Guru with FREE Training
Launching your book is only the beginning. The real work begins after the initial “bang” is over and you have to dig in deep to promote, engage, and provide solutions to readers’ problems.
Remember: Marketing is about delivering a product [your book] to the right people [your audience] who need desperately what you have to offer [your solution].
No matter which marketing tactics sound best for you, remember that choosing a few key strategies and executing on them regularly is crucial to increasing book sales.
Let these strategies be your secret weapon to a successful book launch, and you’ll be on your way to being a bestseller in no time!
What is your best book marketing strategy and how has it worked for you so far?
You probably don’t think short stories are very hard to write.
In fact, you might be the type who assumes short stories are even easier because, well…they’re short.
But that’s just not the case – and I’ll tell you why in just a minute.
If you want to learn how to write a short story, you’ll have to go through these main steps:
- Know your character
- Start with something out of the ordinary
- Get your draft done as soon as possible
- Edit your short story
- Title your short story
- Get feedback about it
But before we dive into these exact methods for how to write a short story, let’s talk about why any and all writers should learn how to craft solid, captivating short stories, even if your end goal is to write full-length novels or even nonfiction.
Why All Writers Should Learn How to Write a Short Story Well
There’s a lot more to writing short stories than you may think. Just because they’re shorter in length doesn’t mean it takes any less skill to execute a good one.
In fact, being able to tell a full story in such a short amount of time arguably takes more skill than writing a full-length novel or nonfiction book.
That being said, why is it beneficial for all writers to learn how to write a short story?
#1 – You learn the skill of showing
When you only have a few pages to hook readers, paint a clear picture of the character, and tell a story, you end up mastering the skill of showing instead of telling.
The reason for this is because, in order to accomplish a successful and good short story, showing is a major part of that.
It’s far too difficult to write a great short story without showing the details and using strong verbs to paint a clear image of your character’s life.
Those skills will transfer into anything you write, automatically making it that much better.
#2 – You’ll strengthen individual chapters
No matter if you’re a fiction writer or if you prefer nonfiction, the idea here is the same.
A chapter is basically a short story that’s a part of a bigger whole. The same skills you apply to write a great short story will also help you write stronger chapters.
Why is writing good chapters important if there’s a whole book available for someone to read?
Because it hooks readers and keeps them turning that page.
And when readers look back on an entire book filled with incredible chapters, the entire book as a whole will be seen as being that much better.
#3 – It makes the story sections of your nonfiction book more captivating
Every nonfiction book has portions where stories must be told in order to get the point across.
This is what allows people to relate to you as an author, which pulls them in deeper and makes the core message of your book resonate with them more.
But if those stories are weak, not well-written, and lackluster, it’s unlikely someone will enjoy them as much.
It’s also likely that your message will get lost because the book doesn’t carry the same impact.
How long are short stories?
You already know that short stories are…shorter than your average novel but do they have any other difference?
Here’s a chart detailing the main differences between short stories, novels, novellas, and nonfiction works.
|Writing Type||Average Word Count||Main Writing Focus|
|Short Stories||under 7,500 words||- Imagery
|Novels||40,000 +||- Character development
|Novellas||17,500 - 40,000||- Character development
|Nonfiction||20,000 - 70,000||- Theme/Message
- Supporting stories
- Personal journey
As you can see, the main difference is length, but that’s not all. When you write a short story, you’re only writing a very impactful snippet of your character’s otherwise full life.
You don’t have to unpack your entire character’s life story in a few hundred words in order to write a great short story.
How to Write a Short Story
If you’re ready to tackle this avenue of creative writing or you just want to learn how to write a short story to strengthen the overall quality of your book, here’s how you can do that.
#1 – Know your character
In order for a short story to be impactful, you have to know your character well. You only have a certain amount of time to show your readers who that person is and you can’t do that if you don’t even know who they are.
Think about it.
If you write a short story about your best friend, whom you’ve known for many years, versus writing one about someone you just met yesterday, you’ll be able to craft a much stronger story about your best friend because you know them so well.
The same goes for your fictional characters.
You don’t have to spend a ton of time on this, but know their history, age, personality, family life, friend life, love life, and other details that shape the way someone sees the world.
#2 – Outline
Thankfully, the outlining process for a short story is much easier than a full novel, but I do still advise creating one in order to have a cohesive flow throughout the story.
This is definitely useful for those of you who prefer outlining versus just writing by the seat of your pants.
Here’s what your outline should encompass for a short story:
- The point of view you’ll use
- How you’ll start the story
- How you’ll get from the beginning to the main issue
- What happens at the “climax” (yes, even short stories have one!)
- Resolution of the main issue
- The very end
Keep in mind that your short story can end very abruptly or you can flesh it out until there’s a satisfying ending.
This is really up to you as an author to decide.
#3 – Start with something out of the ordinary
In order to hook readers with a short story, you should start with something that’ll catch someone’s attention right off the bat.
Odd? Yes. Attention grabbing? You bet!
Because we’re automatically intrigued by the fact that people don’t normally go around collecting roadkill.
Now, you don’t have to start your short story with something as strange as that but you do want to give your readers a sense of who your character is by depicting something different right away that also has to do with the core focus of your short story.
Take this short story called The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry, for example. This author starts with a very low money amount and then hits you with the fact that it’s Christmas the very next day.
This is out of the ordinary because many readers understand that having such little money (scraped up money, at that) right before Christmas isn’t typical. It’s odd – and also hits their emotions right away.
#4 – Get the draft done ASAP
Done is better than perfect. We’ve all heard or read these words time and time again – and that’s because they’re important; they’re true.
This is especially the case when it comes to short stories. Once you have your outline and know how to start writing, drafting the short story in full comes next.
Don’t worry about editing or polishing the story up in any way right now. After all, you can’t possibly make good edits until you know what the story looks like in full.
That would be like matching your earrings to your pants without first having the full outfit put together. You don’t know if those earrings work well with it until you see what else you’ll be wearing.
It’s the same for writing. Focus on getting your draft done so you can move on to the next step.
#5 – Edit your short story
Editing is where the real magic happens when it comes to writing. We all have this idea in our minds that we’ll get it perfect the first time and that’s just not how writing works.
Most of the time, your first draft is just the bare bones of what’s to come.
Think of the actual writing as the wooden structure of a house and the editing as the drywall, paint, windows, light fixtures, doors, and anything else that’ll make the house complete.
These are a few things to keep an eye out for when editing your short story:
- Point of view consistency
- Tense consistency
- Weak verbs (replace them with our list of strong verbs found right here!)
- Showing versus telling (readers need you to show more!)
- Stronger imagery
The editing process for short stories is pretty much the same for novels. The only difference is that short stories tend to focus more on imagery and exposition than they do full character and plot development.
#6 – Title it!
This can be one of the most difficult things for any book, let alone a story that’s only a few hundred to a few thousand words.
The good news? Short story titles are a little less important than titles for novels. They can also be very abstract.
What you want to think of when titling your short story is this:
- What’s the overarching theme?
- What is something unique about the story?
- What sounds intriguing but not explanatory?
These questions will help you develop a title that not only makes sense, but is also intriguing enough to pull readers in while staying true to what the story is about.
#7 – Get feedback
No matter how experienced (or inexperienced) you are as a writer, you need feedback.
In order to learn and improve and ensure your message is coming across as desired, you need someone else’s fresh eyes on it.
The simple fact is, we’re too close to our writing.
It’s impossible to read your story with a critical eye when you’re the one who came up with and wrote it in the first place.
Allowing others to read your work and offer feedback is one of the best ways to improve and make sure your story is exactly how you want it.
Short Story Ideas
Now that you know how to write a short story, it’s time to put these new skills to the test with some short story ideas guaranteed to produce something interesting and intriguing.
Here are some short story ideas to take your writing to the next level:
- Your character opens the mailbox to find their biggest fear inside.
- After a devastating fall, your character is learning the hardships of healing after an accident.
- Your character accidentally insults their company’s CEO – right before a big promotion.
- Your character lost a child years ago but lives as if it just happened the day before.
- Your character’s village wise woman tells the story of how magic was lost due to abuse.
- Your character lives in a space pod traveling space, and they’re also claustrophobic.
- Ash floated from the mountaintop and awoke your character from their night’s sleep.
- Your character hasn’t eaten in days and stumbles upon real berries, and so does a starving bear.
- When your character’s heart is broken, they must find a way to heal it – any way.
- Your character is an orphaned 7-year-old who hears voices.
Your Next Steps
Now you know how to write a short story! But how do you go from having all this knowledge in your brain to actually writing a short story worth reading?
We’ve got those next steps for you.
#1 – Free Training
Learning how to write a short story is only the first step toward becoming a published author – and we have the rest of them for you.
#2 – Download some writing prompts
Not everyone can come up with a story idea off the top of their head. And as you learn how to write a short story, you might come up with a few but if you don’t, we’ve got you covered.
We have a master list of over 200 fiction writing prompts just waiting for someone to bring them to life.
Download yours right here and get started on your short story!
#3 – Start the outline!
If you went ahead and got your list of prompts, or if you already have an idea of your own, start your outline!
Get that main idea down and start thinking creatively about how you can begin your short story in a way that sucks readers in.
Then you can focus on the main event that ties everything together before finalizing how you want the story to end.
Do you have any other tips for learning how to write a short story? What do you love most about this avenue of writing? Comment down below!
If you misunderstand how to write a novel with the proper 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.
Learning how to write a novel requires 5 key milestones in your story:
- The Setup
- The Inciting Incident
- The First Slap
- The Second Slap
- The Climax
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.
What is a Novel?
You probably already know this, but a novel is a work of fiction told through narrative prose focusing on characters 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.
Below is a table detailing how many words make up a novel in each respective genre, as some are typically longer than others.
|Genre||Average Word Count|
|Fantasy||90,000 - 115,000|
|Epic Fantasy||115,000 - 180,000+|
|Sci-Fi||70,000 - 115,000|
|Romance||50,000 - 80,000|
|Suspence/Horror||70,000 - 100,000|
|Mystery||70,000 - 100,000|
|Contemporary||65,000 - 90,000|
|Middle Grade||25,000 - 65,000|
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.
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 pantser? Fiction authors tend to fall into one of two buckets when writing their books.
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.
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
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.
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
This is where you make your story promise and write an introduction that pulls readers in.
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 reviews that make such a difference.
The Setup 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
#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!
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 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.
#3 – The First Slap
Now, we are away to the races!
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.
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.
#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!”
But there are two essential differences between the second slap and the first:
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.
#5 – The Climax
The rollercoaster that you’ve put your reader on is almost over.
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.
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.
And if you need a bit of extra help, I’m going through these 5 Key Milestones in a lot more detail in an upcoming webinar I’m going to conduct with Chandler Bolt. Get the full scoop and register to join us (before we fill up!) here.
I bet you’re wrong about writing a book.
Anyone who says learning how to write a book is easy has never actually tried. If they did, they’d know writing a book takes a lot more than a helpful piece of grammar software.
It takes help from someone who’s done it before – like me.
And I’m ready to let you in on all my secrets with this free video training I put together!
Now, I’m not necessarily saying you thought it would be easy, but I think you’ll be surprised about what the process really entails.
Because if you’ve ever tried to write a book, you know how it goes:
You stare at a blank page for 5 minutes, but it feels like hours. To combat the boredom, you stand, stretch, and brew yet another pot of coffee.
While you wait, you do some more stretches (that you don’t really need to do), look outside, and daydream about mowing the lawn.
But then, you stop. You told yourself today is the day you’ll finally start writing your book.
You take your cup of coffee back to your desk, feeling refreshed, and you’re certain the words will flow and you’ll write that perfect book your audience will love.
But first, you quickly check Facebook. You say you’ll only take five minutes…
A week later someone asks how your book is coming, and you think, “Book? What book? I haven’t even come up with a book idea yet!”
How to Write a Book Despite Procrastination
There are plenty of reasons why writing a book, whether fiction or nonfiction, puts most writers directly into procrastination mode. Maybe you’re just not sure how to get started. Perhaps spilling your guts onto the page for the world to see makes you want to run far away from the nearest computer (I feel you!).
Or maybe you’re insecure about the quality of your writing, and you’re afraid of getting slammed by negative review after negative review.
Or even worse: you might be worried that even if you do write your book, nobody will buy it and all your hard work will have been a waste.
Take a deep breath (but no more coffee, you’ve had enough). Remember that all authors have been exactly where you are right now. Every successful writer—from William Shakespeare to Walt Whitman to Stephen King—began by staring at a blank page.
You’re in illustrious company!
And I’m here to help. You CAN write a book—you just need to know the steps to do it. And that’s exactly what you’re about to learn.
I’m going to share the same system I’ve used to write my bestselling books in 90 days or less.
Learning how to write a book involves a system of 5 main steps:
- Adopt the Mentality of a Writer
- Set Yourself Up for Success
- Actually Write Your Book
- Avoid Potholes Along the Way
- Launch Your Book Successfully
Ready to learn how to write your first book and go from blank page to published author in just 90 days? Then let’s get started!
How to Write a Book Step 1: Think Like a Writer
Before you sit down and type a single word, it will pay off if you take some time to address a few attitude questions and adopt the right mindset.
This is one of the most frequently overlooked steps in becoming a published author, which is a big reason why so many people fail to finish their book.
Take it from me—it’s worth your time to complete these steps. They will make the rest of your book-writing experience much, much easier and more satisfying.
Write with a Purpose — Find Your “Why”
Before you open your laptop and start daydreaming about which photographer should take your best-selling author headshot, or about getting interviewed on Oprah, you need to answer one question:
It’s not enough to have an inspiring book idea. Before you put pen to paper, you need to know your purpose.
I won’t lie. Writing a book is rewarding, but it requires hard work. It requires emotional labor, long nights (or early mornings), extended weekends, and facing a constant self-critical process that is unlike anything you’ve experienced before.
Solidifying the purpose fueling your book will carry you through this difficult process.
Ok, you’re thinking—“Don’t worry, I know why I want to write a book. I want to write to feel important!” That’s an interesting thought, and feeling important may be a byproduct of becoming a self-published author.
However, feeling important isn’t the same as your purpose—your WHY. Feelings are fleeting, whereas a purpose is a deeper, intrinsic motivator which will keep you burning the midnight oil to power through Chapter 23 when the rush of feelings have long dissipated.
While thinking of your own purpose, you may consider why other published authors have taken the leap to write their own books:
- Authority: To build credibility.
- Money: For financial gain or business success.
- Grow a network: To meet and connect with others in the industry.
- Passion project: To share an empowering story for the greater good.
Authority, money, networking, and passion may resonate with you; one of those might be your purpose. Or, your purpose may be something completely independent from this list. There are no wrong or right purposes for writing a book.
Your WHY will be unique to you.
Once you’ve honed in on your WHY, let that purpose help focus your writing. By keeping your purpose at the forefront of your creative process, you’ll make the writing process quicker and smoother than you thought possible.
Get Rid of Your Excuses
You’ve figured out your WHY and articulated your unique purpose for your book. And right on cue, something is going to try to derail your progress already: your excuses.
When there’s nothing standing in your way, it’s sadly typical to start letting excuses become the obstacle to your success. It’s perfectly natural, and it’s part of being human.
But you can overcome it.
It’s worthwhile to spend a little time addressing some common excuses many of us make to prevent us from writing.
Once you’ve cleared out the cobwebs and smashed those mental roadblocks, you’ll be better prepared for the writing process ahead. Getting your mind ready is one of the first steps to producing valuable work.
Excuse #1 – You don’t know what to write.
You may not realize it, but you have a story worth telling.
In fact, you may be pleasantly surprised to find as you write that you have more than one story and you’re having a tough time narrowing down the content.
The easiest way to start writing your first book is to choose a topic you’re comfortable with. You can literally write a book about anything, so go with what you know. Start by brainstorming and let your thoughts run free.
Excuse #2 – You don’t have enough time.
Today, we’re all busy. I get it.
But I have some good news: Writing a book takes less time than you think.
Find an hour a day you devote to something mindless—social media, video games, internet, or TV—and start writing instead.
And if you don’t have an hour, try 30 minutes. Even 5 minutes 3 times a day can be a source of massive productivity. Think about it.
The average person can type 60 words a minute. 60 words x 5 minutes = 300 words. Do that 3 times a day and you’ll produce close to 1,000 words a day.
You’ll amaze yourself at how an hour per day adds up to something productive!
Excuse #3 – Good writers spend all their free time reading.
Think you need to read all day long to be a writer? Think again.
In fact, many prolific writers cut down on their reading—at least temporarily—in order to give themselves enough time to write.
Besides, you don’t need to be a literary connoisseur to write a great book. Your writing style and voice is your own. And the best way to discover your own natural voice is by sitting down and writing (not reading what others have written).
Excuse #4 – You’re “not an expert.”
A lot of people get tripped up on this. They think, “Oh, I’m not really an expert on ___. I can’t write about that.”
The truth is that the whole concept of “expert” is very subjective. An amateur astronomer wouldn’t seem like an expert to Stephen Hawking…but to 99% of the rest of the world, they would be an expert,
You don’t need to know everything about your topic. As long as there’s a knowledge gap between you and the reader—and as long as you’re helping to fill that gap by teaching them the things they don’t know—then you’re expert enough to write a book.
So stop worrying about “not being an expert!” If you’re passionate and knowledgeable about a topic, then you are 100% qualified to write a book about it.
Excuse #5 – Your first draft must be flawless.
A draft is a work-in-progress, and the goal is simply to get it on paper. A draft will have mistakes and that’s okay—that’s what the editing process is for.
Even experienced professional writers produce first drafts that end up covered in the red pen of an editor or numerous red changes in a document, just like the one pictured below.
As Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg said, “Done is better than perfect.”
If it works for a multi-billion-dollar company, it should work for your first self-published book.
Don’t get me wrong, as I’ve already said, writing is hard work. But shedding these excuses should help get you into a positive frame of mind for the writing process.
Realize You Don’t Need to Be Perfect
The thought of writing a book causes many people to think, “I’m not a good enough writer. I need to do _____ before I start writing.”
Well, I’m here to tell you that:
- You don’t need a creative writing class.
- You don’t need a writing mentor or coach (though it does help).
- You don’t need to read thousands of good books.
You only need one thing: a system for finishing your book.
There’s no such thing as a perfect book or a perfect writer. When you get down to it, the most important distinction is between authors who finish their books and authors who don’t.
Don’t worry about being perfect. Just focus on your book, and your writing will get better and better over time.
As with anything we learn, writing is a skill. It requires practice to hone over time. So let go of the idea that you’re not good enough.
This will help you make the mindset switch from “I can’t” to “Let’s get this done!”
How to Write a Book Step 2: Set Yourself Up for Success
Now it’s time to start your prep work. Before you start putting any words onto the page, you need to focus on a few important preparations. Take the time to complete these steps and you’ll be setting yourself—and your new book—up for success.
Plan When You’ll Write
Without a plan, it’s too easy to let your book writing goals get pushed to the background, eventually fading into the soft mist of “someday.” Don’t let your book end up in the graveyard of dreams. In order to realize your end goal, you need actionable steps to follow.
Here are 3 things you can do to create your own customized book writing plan.
#1 – Plan writing sessions using your calendar.
Assess what’s going on in your life in the next 30 days, then block out when you can write, and when you can’t. It’s common for new writers to set unrealistic time goals, which in turn generates stress when it’s impossible to meet those arbitrary deadlines.
Avoid this and stay realistic. Thirty minutes (or even 5 minutes) spent writing is better than nothing, so resolve to make it happen and find the time.
Look at Laura Bennett, a Self-Publishing School student. She was working full-time, running a business, and working on her Master’s degree—busier than most people—yet she found the time to write her book Live Your Dream: How to Cut the Crap and Prioritize Your Purpose in 2 months!
If Laura could make it happen, then writing your book is certainly an attainable dream.
#2 – Choose the time of day you plan to write.
You might decide to get up early and write before the obligations of your day crowd out your writing time. But if you’d win the gold medal in the Olympic sport of snooze-button slapping, then choose a different time or make sure you get to bed earlier so you’re fresh in the morning.
If your evenings are free, but your brain is mush and you’re only good for sinking deep into the couch cushions, then choose a different time or rearrange your schedule so you aren’t so burnt out in the evenings.
Alternatively, you can grab some time on your lunch break, or sneak small blocks of time into your workday, such as when you’re transitioning between activities, or waiting for a meeting to start.
Whatever time of day is convenient for you, stick with it so that it becomes a predictable part of your day. This will establish a writing habit.
#3 – Set a deadline for your book-writing project.
Setting an end date forces you to stay on schedule and keeps the forward momentum going. So consider giving yourself a deadline for your book.
You may be wondering: How do you choose a deadline when you have no idea how long the book-writing process will take?
One month is a good benchmark to start with. Self-Publishing School recommends writing until you hit a daily word count of 500-1,000 words. If you can commit to an hour a day, you should be able to reach that goal. After 30 days of daily writing sessions, you will have completed a 30,000-word draft.
Consistency is key. Small, consistent actions toward writing your book is how it comes to life.
If that schedule doesn’t work, then commit to a time period and a daily word count that does. It’s okay if that’s 15 minutes per day.
The ultimate goal is your rear end in the writing seat for that allocated period of time each day.
Share the end date of your first completed draft with others so you have extrinsic motivation to keep moving toward that finish line.
It’s a good idea to choose an editor for your book (before you finish your first draft) and schedule when you’ll have the completed first draft of the manuscript in that person’s hands.
That way, if you’re tempted to flake out and put off a writing session, that looming deadline can help keep you going.
Create Your Writing Environment
The physical space where you do your writing is important. If you try to write in an environment that’s too loud, too busy, or too cluttered, and you’ll find yourself getting frequently distracted.
True, some authors can write in a disheveled environment…
…but I suspect that most of these authors would become even more focused and productive if they cleaned up their writing space to make it easier to focus on their writing.
However, that’s just my opinion. The truth is that the “best” writing environment is going to be personal to you. We all work well in different settings, so with that in mind, consider these general guidelines to boost your productivity:
(To get the sound of a cafe from the comfort of home, check out Coffitivity.)
You might need to experiment to find the writing environment that allows you to focus and write freely. Bottom line: Find the writing environment that makes you comfortable and go with it. Once you find the best creative process for you, you’ll even look forward to writing!
Equip Yourself with the Right Tools
Would you try to construct a piece of furniture without a hammer, nails, or wood?
Of course not! You need the right tools for the job.
Well, the same principle applies when writing a book. And when it comes to writing, your most important tool is your choice of writing software.
Unfortunately, most people don’t really put much thought into which program they use to write their book. They just use whatever word processor they’re most familiar with.
But doing this can cause you to really miss out—especially if there’s another program out there that would work much better for you.
There are countless options out there, but most people end up using one of the “big 3” word processors:
If you just want a time-tested program that works, Word might be the program for you. It’s the most widely used word processor in the world, which means it’s highly reliable and consistent. It also provides a lot of formatting options and even has a navigation pane you can use to easily find the chapter you’re looking for.
One of the biggest downsides to Word is that it’s fairly expensive as far as word processors go.
If you like advanced features, definitely check out Scrivener. It was created specifically for authors, and it contains all sorts of tools that are really helpful for both fiction and nonfiction authors.
For example, you can use the corkboard view to organize your book using virtual notecards:
The biggest downside to Scrivener? Because of all the advanced features, it has a steeper learning curve than other word processors.
You can think of Google Docs as sort of a “Word Lite” program that you can access online, for free. While it doesn’t boast as many features as Word or Scrivener, it’s the hands-down most convenient program out there for sharing and collaboration.
Because everything is stored online, you can access your work from anywhere. And it’s easy to share your work with others and collaborate by leaving comments in the margins:
The big downside to Google Docs? It lacks the more sophisticated features of Word and Scrivener.
Of course, these are only 3 options—there are many more great writing tools out there.
How to Write a Book Step 3: Actually Write Your Book
OK, we’ve got the preliminary stuff out of the way—time to sit down and actually write this thing!
This is an exciting part of the process…unfortunately, it’s also the part where many people get overwhelmed and give up.
But there’s good news: actually writing your book can be a lot easier than you think—if you have the right system. A system that guides you from your idea through your outline and all the way up to your final, polished, publication-ready draft.
Here are the most important things you need to do when writing your book.
Come Up With Your Book Idea
Before you can start typing, you need to have a topic. That might seem obvious, but it can still be a stumbling block if you don’t know what to write about.
Fortunately, there are countless book ideas that could turn into bestselling books.
I recommend brainstorming a long list of book ideas. This way you’ll have a lot of options—giving you the freedom to choose the best possible book topic.
Here are a few questions to ask yourself when brainstorming book ideas:
- What are you passionate about?
- What’s your favorite hobby?
- What do you get paid for? What’s your expertise?
- What are people coming to you for advice on?
- What’s a topic you know a lot about or can’t stop talking about?
These are all great ways to come up with bestselling book ideas. In a nutshell, you’re trying to find topics that you’re knowledgeable or passionate about. Because these are the topics that you’re going to do a great job writing about!
Notice that I highlighted the question, “What do you get paid for? What’s your expertise?”
That’s because this is a particularly useful question for coming up with book ideas. A lot of people seem to forget that there is usually at least one topic on which they are a bona fide expert—and that’s their job!
It might not seem that exciting or special to you, because you’re so used to it, but to someone else who’s trying to learn what you already know…your job-related knowledge can seem very valuable indeed.
Don’t Censor Yourself
When you’re brainstorming ideas, don’t censor yourself. Just let the ideas flow. Realize that there is no such thing as a crazy idea. Anything can make a great book topic.
So don’t ever let yourself feel silly or start to judge yourself—doing so is a surefire way to stop your creativity in its tracks.
On the other hand, don’t feel bad if your topic sounds too commonplace either. Even if you’re writing about an age-old topic—like a weight loss book or a romance novel—that’s OK! The truth is that there are no “new” ideas. Everything has been written about before.
But it hasn’t been written from your unique perspective. And that’s what really matters.
Realize that a writer’s job isn’t to come up with never-before-seen ideas. Doing that is pretty much impossible in this day and age.
Instead, a writer’s job is to explore topics from their own point of view. To lend their unique spin on them.
Take a Reader-Centric Perspective
While thinking of your book topic, here’s a piece of advice that I strongly recommend you follow:
Think from your reader’s perspective (not your own).
Many people are too self-centered when they write. When I say “self-centered,” I mean that they’re thinking only of themselves: their interests, their hobbies, their passions.
Yes, it’s true that those are great topics to explore when coming up with your book topic. But during this process, you’ll need to switch from a self-centered perspective to a reader-centered perspective.
Ask yourself questions like:
- What would my reader be most interested in?
- What would my reader most like to learn?
- What are my reader’s biggest problems?
When you start to think this way, it becomes much easier to write your book in a way that provides immense value for the people who matter most—your readers.
Figure Out Which Book You Should Write First
By now you should have a long list of book topics. And you might be wondering, which topic should I write about first?
Here are a few tips to help you choose the best starting project:
- Which one can you finish the fastest? Usually, this is the topic where you have the most experience. This is a good thing to keep in mind because the faster you can finish your book, the faster you can get it out in the world where it can earn you money and help people. (And the faster you can get started on your second book!)
- Which one are you most likely to finish? Usually, these are the topics you are more passionate about. For your first book, I highly recommend choosing a topic that you’re really passionate about to help make sure that you’ll remain interested throughout the entire process.
- Which one is going to make you happy? This is a little harder to define, but it might be something that strikes a chord with you. Maybe there’s a certain book topic that stands out for one reason or another. If that’s the case, then go for it! Remember, writing should make you
Now with these tips in mind, choose the topic for your very first book before proceeding to the next step.
Come Up With a Title
The most important words of your book are the ones that appear on the outside cover:
Your book title.
You don’t have to decide on your final title at this point, but your title is so important that it’s worth thinking about up-front. I recommend brainstorming ideas and letting them simmer in the back of your mind.
Here are a few tips on creating standout, marketable titles.
For a nonfiction book, your title should…
- Include the solution to the reader’s problem
- Use a subtitle for clarity
- Be unforgettable
And for a fiction book, your title should…
- Be appropriate to your genre
- Pique the reader’s interest
- Take its inspiration from your characters
It always helps to do a little research on Amazon. To do that, just head here and select your genre on the left-hand side of the page:
Then you can take a look at some of the best-selling titles in your genre. You can even sub-niche down several times, like “History > Ancient Civilizations > Mesopotamia.” Now pay attention to the titles and look for common themes or trends to use for your own book.
Remember that you’re just starting, so you can always change the title later. But for the time being it can help to have a “working title” (a temporary title that you may change before publication).
Fill Out The BookMap
The BookMap is a free downloadable book outlining template you can use to quickly gather all the important information you’ll need for your book — fiction or nonfiction.
Essentially, the way it works is you’ll create a mind map—sort of a brain dump with a line connecting related ideas together—on your book’s topic.
Start your BookMap by writing your intended topic in the center. From there, answer the questions and add as many related ideas as you can think of. (Again, connect related ideas with a line.) The BookMap gives you the benefits of writing in free-form and creating structure from all the connections you make.
Turn Your BookMap Into an Outline
Once you’ve completely filled out your BookMap, the next step is to group all the related ideas into categories. There’s no hard and fast rule for how to do this; just combine your ideas in the way that makes the most sense to you.
One way to do this is to rewrite each idea on a fresh piece of paper, this time grouped together in related topics. Or, you could simply use different-colored highlighters to categorize your ideas with different colors.
Either way, the result is the same: when you’re done grouping your ideas, those categories will form the outline for your book—each category is a new chapter. So now you know exactly which topics to write about, and you know which points to cover in every chapter of your book.
Capture More Notes with The Sticky Note Method
You can use this method instead of the BookMap, or as a supplement to it.
For about a week, carry around sticky notes and write down anything and everything that crosses your mind regarding your possible book topics.
When the week is up, organize all your sticky notes into sections and themes. Then, organize these themes into the patterns that would make sense in the context of chapters of your book. You can then elaborate in areas where you notice missing pieces to the puzzle, and use all of the material you’ve gathered and organized to create an outline.
This method may be helpful if you’re struggling with the notion of committing to writing a whole book since it lets you break down the process into manageable pieces. The ultimate outcome of using this method is deeper thinking, clarity, and concise organization of thoughts and patterns.
Now Write Your Book…One Chapter at a Time
You now have a chapter-by-chapter outline for your book. The only thing left to do…is to actually sit down and write it!
There’s not necessarily a right or wrong way to write your book. But there are some ways that are easier, faster, and more successful than others.
And in my experience, there’s one writing method that works better than any other. Here’s how it works:
- Complete a mini-BookMap for that chapter, brainstorming everything you know about this topic. (10 minutes.)
- Organize your ideas and turn that BookMap into an outline. (10 minutes.)
- Write or speak the chapter by following the outline you just created. (45-60 minutes.)
- Repeat this process, chapter by chapter, until your book is completed.
Steps 1 & 2 should be familiar by now—they’re the same steps you followed to create your overall book outline. You just repeat those steps on a smaller scale for each chapter.
Then in step 3, you have a choice: you can type out your chapter on a computer, or you can use a recording device & transcription service to dictate your chapter.
If you like the idea of dictating your book, rather than typing it out, here’s how to do it.
How to Speak Your Book
This method works well if you’re a strong speaker and you prefer speaking to writing. The ultimate outcome is that you can create your book draft as quickly as possible, with no actual “writing” on your part. Cool, huh?
Once your chapter outline is complete, the next steps are:
- Speak your first draft aloud into a recording app or device such as Voice Memos or Audacity.
- Get that audio file transcribed using a transcription service like Rev.
- Read through the transcription and revise/polish it up.
As I mentioned, one of the benefits of this method is its speed. Just how fast can you write a first draft using speech dictation?
Well, if the average book is 15,000-25,000 words long, and if the average person speaks at about 150 words/minute, then you can easily speak your entire book in approximately 2-3 hours.
Of course, your spoken & transcribed book will need some polishing and revision to get it publication-ready. But it’s still the fastest way of writing a book I’ve ever come across.
Speed Up Your Writing
Writing faster means getting to publication—and to profits—that much sooner.
Try these pro tips to maximize your daily word count:
- Flex your writing muscles each day. The more you work, the more efficient you’ll get. Create your writing routine and stick to it.
- If you get stuck on a particular section and stop making progress, find a different part of the book that appeals to you today and write that section instead.
- Planning and research can be necessary—or a method of procrastination. Limit your prep work to a reasonable timeframe so it won’t stop you from writing. Use a timer if it helps you stay on track.
- An accountability partner can keep you on track. Set up weekly meetings to review work and cheer each other on.
How to Write a Book Step 4: Avoid Potholes Along the Way
If you’ve been following along with steps 1-3, then you’re in the process of writing your book. You’re working from a solid outline, which means you know exactly what to write in every single chapter.
So nothing could possibly go wrong…right?
Unfortunately, no. Even when you have a solid plan, a proven system, and a detailed outline, you can still get tripped up by some of these sneaky book writing roadblocks. Luckily, I’ve got some tips to help you overcome the most common book writing problems.
How to Beat Writer’s Block
Writer’s block can rear its ugly head in many ways. For some, being blocked means no words at all, while for others, it means trying to nail down a functional draft in the midst of a tornado of swirling ideas.
Most of the time, writer’s block is a symptom of a paralyzing fear of others’ opinions.
The harsh reality is, if you write, at some point you’ll be on a first-name basis with a bout of the block. The only way to deal with it is to beat it.
Here are 8 methods I’ve found personally useful when fighting writer’s block:
- Circle back to your BookMap or outline and see if there’s useful info that sparks fresh inspiration. Sometimes it just takes looking back at the bigger picture to remind you where you’re going with your draft.
- Change up the physical way you’re writing; sometimes a simple shift can boost creativity. If you use a laptop, put pen to pad. Try some new music, a new location, or new beverage to sip at your desk.
- If you find you start writing slowly and warm up as time goes on, allow adequate time during your writing sessions to get the creative juices flowing.
- Review what you wrote yesterday to refresh your memory.
- Talk it out. Sometimes a quick conversation with yourself is enough to work through writer’s block. Or call a friend and bounce some ideas off them if you’re truly stuck.
- Remember that what you’re writing doesn’t need to be perfect—you’re writing a first draft. If you have a case of perfectionist syndrome, tell yourself it’s okay to write something you’ll think is terrible. Making something good is what second drafts and the editing process is for. Always remember: Done is better than perfect.
- Go for a walk. You might be surprised at how a walk outside, or a brief bit of exercise, helps refresh and recharge your creative juices.
- Read another author who has a style you like. Read their book for 10 minutes and then start typing, holding their voice in your head.
Don’t Edit While You Write
Tell me if this sounds familiar:
You sit down to write and you bang out a page or two. Then you stop and reread what you just wrote. And instead of continuing, you go back and start editing those first few pages of writing.
In your mind, you’re just fixing up your work. You want everything to be just right before you continue on ahead.
But in reality, you’ve just stopped all your forward progress. You spend the next hour trying to make those pages PERFECT…and when perfect doesn’t happen, you get frustrated and stop writing.
Usually, when this sort of thing happens, it becomes very difficult to do any more writing. Why? Because writing and editing use different parts of your brains—and when you allow yourself to slip into a more critical/judgmental frame of mind, it becomes almost impossible to start creating again.
That’s why, even though editing is an important skill, you need to resist the urge to edit your work while you’re still writing.
Don’t start editing your book until AFTER you’ve already created the entire first draft.
Format Your Book Properly
Few things are more irritating than having to go back through your entire book to fix the formatting.
The take-home lesson? Think about how you want to format your book before you write it, and then be consistent. It’ll save you a lot of time in the long run.
And take the time to figure out how to format your book for publication. For example, did you realize that fiction and nonfiction books typically use different indentation styles?
Nonfiction books tend to use block paragraphs, like this:
Whereas fiction books use indentation instead:
Here are a few more book formatting tips:
- Avoid using hard indents. (Don’t hit “tab” at the beginning of a new paragraph; instead, change the paragraph settings to automatically give each paragraph the indentation you want.)
- Only use one space after a period. (Using 2 spaces was necessary with typewriters, but not with computers.)
- If you want to create a page break, do not hit “Enter” repeatedly until you reach the next page. Instead, use the “Page break” function. This is the only way to ensure that your page break will work even after people resize your book on their Kindle.
Keep Going, & Don’t Stop—You’re Almost There!
Now you know not only how to get started writing your book, but how to complete your book project in a mere 90 days!
Remember to keep your WHY at the forefront of your mind, and you’ll be able to crush any and all obstacles that get in your way. If any of the common challenges or obstacles we’ve mentioned rear their ugly head, you’ll know how to deal with them.
With just a little bit of time and a lot of determination, you are on your way to officially calling yourself an author.
How to Write a Book Step 5: Launch Your Book Successfully
By this point, your book is completed—congratulations! You’ve done something that most people will never do.
You’ve written a book.
But you’re not done yet. Not quite. Because you still need to launch your book in a way that sets it up for success; in a way that maximizes your readers, your income, and your influence.
Unfortunately, most people who succeed in writing a book never get this whole “launch” thing figured out. They throw their book up on Amazon without really having a plan, and as a result, they get very few sales, make almost no money, and are frustrated at the lack of response to their work.
It’s true that self-publishing your book on Amazon is a great way to go. But you can’t simply publish your book and expect people to find it. Instead, you need to dedicate some time to mastering the publishing and marketing processes on Amazon to sell more books. This is the only way to make sure that your book makes its way into the hands of the people who will benefit from reading your words.
If you follow this simple launch plan, you can rest assured that your book will come out with a bang and will generate steady sales right out of the gate and for years to come.
Get a Good Cover
We all know you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. But in reality, people do exactly that—all the time. And that’s why, if you want your book to sell, your book cover is important.
Really, really important.
And a good book cover does 2 things:
- It grabs people’s attention.
- It instantly tells people what the book is about.
Here are a few examples from some of my own books:
Notice a couple things. First of all, it’s orange—which helps it to stand out and grab attention. Second, it’s super-clear what the book is about. The title is in the upper third of the book in large print, so you can read it even in a thumbnail.
Both covers were designed using the same basic principles. They’re simple, bold covers that stand out. They also have subtitles that clarify exactly what the book is about.
Now this style of cover works great for my niche, but it won’t necessarily work for every type of book. For example, it would make a terrible cover for a romance novel!
Why? Well, in short, it doesn’t look like a romance novel. Remember that part of a cover’s job is to tell people what the book is about. And in many genres of fiction and nonfiction, readers have come to expect a certain type of book cover.
In order to clearly communicate what your book is about to your ideal readers, you need it to fit in with their expectations—while also standing out enough to grab their attention. This is another reason why it pays to head over to the Amazon bestselling books list and study some of the most successful books in your genre.
What do those covers look like? Do they share a similar layout? Color scheme? Font style?
For example, if you were writing a romance novel, you would want to study these covers:
Find out what the most successful books in your genre look like, then imitate that look—but change it up just enough so that it stands out and grabs your readers’ attention.
Build a Launch Team
The real key to a successful book launch is building and leveraging a launch team.
So what is a launch team?
In a nutshell, your launch team is a small team of people who are supporting your book. They could be friends, family, associates, online affiliates—anyone.
At first, your launch team might be limited to your immediate friends & family. That’s OK! Launch your book with their help, and work on continually building your launch team every chance you get.
When you build a launch team, you need to make 2 things clear for everyone:
- What are they agreeing to do for you?
- What are they getting in return?
Step 1 is pretty simple: you want them to read your book, leave a review, and share it with their own friends and family.
This is how you spread the word about a brand-new book when you don’t have an email list or a social media following.
Step 2 can vary from person to person. What do your friends & family get in return for helping you? In many cases, they get things like:
- A free copy of your book
- Their name mentioned in the “Acknowledgements” part of your book
- The chance to be part of something inspiring
- The personal satisfaction of helping to create something meaningful
As your launch team grows bigger, you might need to offer more than that. For example, maybe another person in your niche agrees to promote your new book to their email list—but in exchange, they want a percentage of your profit.
(This is called affiliate marketing, and it’s a great way to grow your audience and your revenue while letting somebody else do the marketing for you.)
But don’t worry about that for now. Just reach out to anyone you know who would be willing to support your first book launch and ask for their help.
Get Ongoing Reviews
If there’s one thing we know about the Amazon algorithm, it’s this:
It loves reviews.
If you want your book to show up in search results and as a “Recommended” book when people are looking at similar products, you need to continue generating ongoing reviews to keep the algorithm happy.
When you do, your book will start to show up at the top of Amazon results:
Reviews are a fantastic form of social proof. They’re a credibility sign that lots of people have read your book and loved it—and that makes other people more likely to want to read it, too.
But you have to be careful about how you go about trying to get Amazon reviews. For example, you can get in big trouble if you try to pay for reviews, swap reviews with other authors, or offer free gifts in exchange for reviews.
You can solicit reviews, but they cannot be “incentivized” reviews.
So how can you generate more reviews without offering people something in return? Well, I’ve discovered a few tips that work incredibly well. Click here to learn my 8-step process for generating more Amazon reviews.
Get Help From a Mentor Who’s Done It Before
I’d like to leave you with one final message:
The best way to learn how to write a bestselling book is to get help from somebody who’s been there before.
People often ask me how I was able to make so much money and sell so many copies of my very first book. And I always tell them the same thing:
Because I sought out a mentor. Someone to teach me a proven book-writing process that had been tried and tested. A book-writing system that was almost guaranteed to work, as long as I followed it properly.
Well, that’s the real secret to my success as an author. I sought out the help I needed to give my very first book a major head-start.
My Final Tip
And now I’m sharing the opportunity to learn from someone who’s mastered writing and self-publishing books with you.To learn from a mentor who can help you achieve your dream of writing and publishing your very first book.
If you want to finish your book, you need a roadmap. That’s why I’m sharing some of the best strategies and tricks other bestselling authors paid thousands of dollars to get — yours FREE.
Here’s what you’ll learn:
- The EXACT blueprint to FINALLY cross “write a book” off your bucket list — in just 90 days
- The Bestselling Book Launch Blueprint behind dozens of bestsellers
- Case studies of bestselling authors who made $1,287, $5,500, even $12,424.03 from their first book
- And much more!
Are you ready to write your book? What are some things that you’re still struggling with?
Growing you book sales isn’t easy. In fact, you’re probably doing it incorrectly already.
This post will show you how to market your book for growth.
But if you want to know all the ins-and-outs of self-publishing, including how to write, market, and publish your book within 90 days…we highly recommend watching your free training first.
How to get book endorsements
Endorsements are a very powerful form of social proof and trust-builder for potential readers of your book.
Endorsements alone might not make your book a bestseller, but they’ll give you an advantage over other books that don’t have them.
You could place endorsements or “blurbs” on the back cover of your book, the praise sheet, or even the front cover, as you can see from my endorsement example below.
But, how do you get top influencers to support your book? Here are five simple steps to get endorsements for your book.
#1 – Find the right influencers
The most powerful endorsements are those given by people who are well-known in your field.
To select the right influencers, find out who your ideal readers admire. Post the question on targeted social media groups or ask them directly.
Also, ask yourself what top influencers you follow and respect. Add their names to the list.
Focus on quality over quantity, but if you don’t have enough names, search for bestselling books similar to yours and check out who endorsed them.
It’s important that the influencers have a style and values similar to yours. That way, your ideal reader will be likely to be attracted to them and be familiar with their work.
How do you figure out the style and values of potential endorsers? Start by visiting the “About Me” page on their website and pay attention to their branding and message.
Then, visit their social media pages and focus on the style of their posts and the content they share. You’ll get a good idea of whether the person’s values and style might be a good match for you or not.
#3 – Deliver value first
Because it’s much easier to get a yes from someone who has already received value from you, it’s important that you start planning your request for endorsements in advance.
For blurbs by top influencers, you might need to start the outreach process several months ahead of the publication of your book.
Regardless of where you are in your journey, there’s always a way for you to bring value to the influencers and start a relationship with them.
Something as simple as sending them a handwritten note about how much their message means to you, posting a video review of their book on Amazon, or recommending them on LinkedIn will help you stand out.
Here are other examples of powerful ways to stand out:
- becoming an active member on the influencers’ social media groups
- attending one of their conferences
- joining one of their paid programs
You should do this because you truly enjoy their message and not just because you’re seeking endorsements. Your true intentions will come through in your communications and behaviors.
Avoid going straight to the ask without having taken the time to deliver value first.
#4 – Prepare to ask
Before you reach out to potential endorsers, do everything you can to make it as easy as possible for them to say yes.
Prepare well in advance so you can find the best opportunities to ask for the endorsement, and give yourself enough time to get through gatekeepers.
For example, if the influencer will be speaking at an event in your town, you could grab a ticket and introduce yourself.
However, local events aren’t your only choice. One of my friends was interested in building a relationship with an influencer who would be speaking three thousand miles away. But that didn’t stop her.
By following the influencer on Instagram, she learned that this person loved brownies and would be attending the event with her husband.
My friend ordered a dozen brownies to be delivered to the event with a customized note that read, “Best wishes during your presentation. Hope you and your husband enjoy these treats!”
That was the start of their friendship.
As part of your preparation, write a sample endorsement for each influencer. Blurs usually hover around 50 words (never more than 100). If you know their work well, you will be able to create blurbs that closely match their writing voice.
#5 – Ask for the endorsement
It might feel nerve-wracking to ask, but never wrong. If you’re hesitant, it might be too soon in the relationship, especially when it comes to top influencers.
If you ask too soon, they will either ignore you or reject your proposal.
Rushing might mean that you’ll have to start the process all over again and find someone else to endorse your book.
Never send a mass request to a group of influencers. You’ll waste your time, and hurt your chances of ever building a relationship with them. Customization is key.
Send the influencers a copy of your book along with a well-crafted message asking for the endorsement.
Ideally, you’ll send them a physical copy. It doesn’t have to be the final version, and it doesn’t have to be perfect. It can be a printed PDF.
That said, you must ensure that whatever you send to the influencer is professionally packaged.
If sending a physical version of your book is not possible, you can send them the PDF or ebook, but you’ll have to ask in a way that stands out. You could achieve this by customizing your message in a unique way, creating a video specifically designed for them, or preceding your email with a handwritten note.
Think outside the box! A video card or a note written on a balloon would be clever ways to stand out, too.
Be succinct. Remember that time is a high-price commodity for influencers (for everyone!) so you don’t want to make it a chore to understand what you’re asking.
Start by expressing why you feel they’re the right person to endorse the book and why you respect them so much. Be sure to mention that you’re eager to make your readers aware of their work.
Next, specify the length of the blurb you’re seeking as well as by when you need it done.
Don’t make your deadline too far in the future so that it’s put in the back burner, but don’t make it so soon that the influencer will immediately say no. I personally chose 3-4 weeks to collect the blurbs.
Be prepared to negotiate an extended due date, and allow for extra time in your planning.
When you share the blurb that you wrote, explain that you’re just trying to make things easy for them.
Express how much you appreciate their time and attention, and close with the promise to follow up in a week or two.
Following Up for Book Endorsements
If you don’t hear back from the influencers, it’s easy to assume they’re not interested in writing the endorsement and be tempted to give up. However, it’s important to realize that they might have not received your message yet.
Emails go to spam folders. Gatekeepers delete emails and toss out mail. You never know!
When you follow up, try a different way to reach the person. If you used email first, follow up with a handwritten note or a message on social media.
If you find out the name of the influencers’ gatekeepers, reach out to them directly. Build a relationship with them as well, and you will have a great chance of success.
My rule of thumb is to follow up three times. If you don’t hear from them, it might be time to move on.
As you can see, with a well-written manuscript, proper planning, and a great dose of authenticity, it’s possible for you to get endorsements from top influencers in your field.
The most important step is to take action.
It’s easy to be sidelined by fear of rejection, but if you think about it, the worst thing that can happen is that they’ll say no. If you’re confident in the quality of your book, you have nothing to fear.
Take the first step today to gain powerful social proof and make your book a success!
This is a guest post by Cloris Kylie, marketing MBA, who shows you how to create a strong marketing foundation and connect with influencers to grow a magnificent business. The bestselling author of “Beyond Influencer Marketing” and the host of “Beyond Influencer Marketing Podcast,” she has been featured on network television, top-ranked podcasts, and YouTube shows and websites with millions of followers. Get her guide to connect with influencers at https://www.cloriskylie.com/influencer.
Knowing how to get an ISBN as a self-published author is crucial.
Since you can’t publish without an ISBN, we’re helping you learn how in order to publish the right way and why you even need an ISBN number in the first place.
But you don’t have to even worry about an ISBN number if you don’t have a book ready to publish, right? And it won’t even matter if you don’t publish that book the right way.
Before you read another section, make sure to take advantage of this FREE training we offer that will teach you what you need to know about self-publishing your book.
An ISBN number will go to waste without the proper system in place.
What is an ISBN number used for?
Essentially, an ISBN number, or International Standard Book Number, is a regulated 10- or 13-digit identification number which allows libraries, publishers, and book dealers to locate and identify specific books.
But where did these ISBN numbers even start and why do we have them?
In the early days of World War 2, the Japanese military sent messages back and forth and the Allies needed to crack their intricate numbering system to get an edge in the war and turn the tables.
But how did they crack this complex system?
Decades later, when the book industry needed a standardized tracking program in order to coordinate the increasing number of titles being published each year, Gordon Foster was approached by WH Smith, a British retailer, to write a report on how to create such a system.
This report led to the 9-digit standard book number which went live in the UK in 1967 and eventually led to the ISBN system used worldwide.
Several years later, this turned into a 10-digit numbering system when a policy was needed for new editions and variations. Then, in 2007, the ISBN switched to a 13-digit format and is now the standard used everywhere.
What is the purpose of an ISBN number?
ISBN stands for “International Standard Book Number” and before it was implemented in 1967, the method and system for cataloging, ordering, organizing, and locating a specific book was a chaotic mess.
Today, to get your book into a bookstore, a library, or almost any book distribution channel on the planet, you need an ISBN number.
But the process can be really confusing for new authors. There are a number of questions you might be asking yourself about ISBN numbers:
- How does this long string of numbers on the back of books work?
- How do you get it?
- If you’re a self-published author, do you need an ISBN?
- Why would you need one?
These are all questions answered in this article.
Let’s unweave the intricate web of how to get an ISBN and how they work in the publishing industry.
How To Read an ISBN number with an ISBN Example
As of 2007, the ISBN is a 13-digit number. This came about in part because of the large volume of eBooks now being published every year. Knowing how to break down and interpret these 13 digits aren’t of much use and interest to most book readers, but for publishers and distributors, it’s a necessity.
If you want to publish lots of books under your own publishing name then it’s something you may want to pay attention to. You can tell a lot about a book and its author by reading the ISBN number.
The 13 digit ISBN number helps:
- Identify the specific title
- Identify the author
- Identify the type of book they are buying
- Identify the physical properties of that particular book
- Identify the geographical location of the publisher
Let’s break it down and look at what all these numbers mean.
Here is the ISBN for a particular book:
You’ll notice this sequence is divided into 5 number combinations. But the first three digits “978” indicates that this string of numbers is for an ISBN. If we remove these digits we have:
First is the initial digit, in this case: 3
The 3 is the language group identifier which here indicates German. For English speaking countries a 0 or 1 is used. Numbers for language identification generally range from 1-5.
Here is a list of the most common Group identifiers:
0 or 1 for English
2 for French
3 for German
4 for Japan
5 for Russian
7 for People’s Republic of China
It’s worth mentioning that the rarer the language, the longer the number identifier will be. For example, Indonesia is 602 whereas Turkey is 9944. You can reference the complete list at the International ISBN Agency.
Next is “16”. This is the “publisher code,” and it identifies the publisher on any book that has this number. This number can be as long as 9 digits.
“148410” — This six-digit series represents the title of the book. The publisher assigns this to a specific book or edition of the book, such as a hardcover version or paperback. This could be a single digit or stretch to multiple digits.
“0” is the last digit and is known as the “check digit”. This number is mathematically calculated as a fixed digit. This is always a single digit. This number indicates that the rest of the ISBN numbers have been scanned and is calculated based on the other digits in the code.
Where is the ISBN number on books?
The ISBN is usually found above the barcode on the back of the book. However, they’re not the same.
The barcode is much different than the ISBN number.
This is an important distinction because:
- When you purchase an ISBN you don’t automatically get a barcode
- The barcode of your book can change, while your ISBN can remain the same.
We’ve already discussed what data the ISBN carries, however, the barcode includes extra information such as the book’s fixed price and the currency it’s being sold in.
Barcodes are a necessary element of your book as they allow for most retailers and distributors to scan your ISBN for retail and inventory reasons.
The standard barcode is known as the EAN (European Article Number) barcode, and your barcode must be in this format to sell your book in bookstores.
(Breakdown of the typical EAN barcode on the back of a book by Publisher Services)
How to Read a Barcode
If you look at the picture of a standard barcode, you’ll notice two barcodes side by side. The barcode that appears on the left is the EAN generated from the ISBN number.
The other number appearing on the right is a 5-digit add-on, called an EAN-5, that contains the price of the book. The first digit is a 5 and is a must for scanners to read. The 4-digits after the five indicates the price of the book.
For example, if the number reads 52995, this means the price of the book is set at $29.95. If the price of the book changes, a new barcode must be used, though the ISBN wouldn’t change.
This would only be replaced by a new ISBN number if the book is published as a new edition or as a new version.
To buy a barcode you must first purchase an ISBN. You can buy your barcodes at Bowker and they even offer a barcode-ISBN combo:
- 1 barcode + 1 ISBN is $150.
- 1 barcode + 10 ISBNs is $320.
The Difference Between ASIN and ISBN
If you’ve used Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) program you’ve probably come across an ASIN. ASIN numbers are used by Amazon to manage and identify the products they are selling on their site. It’s a 10-character alphanumeric unique identifier that’s assigned by Amazon.com and its partners.
You can find this on your book page. In your browser, the Amazon ASIN will be after the product’s name and “dp”. The next place to find this is in your book or product details area of your book page.
However, an ASIN is not the same as an ISBN. You can only use it with Amazon. If you want to sell through other platforms or in brick and mortar stores, you’re going to need an ISBN.
Reasons Self-Published Authors Need an ISBN
If you want to publish and sell your eBook on Amazon, then the quick answer is no, it isn’t necessary. Amazon will assign your eBook an ASIN number which will be used to identify and track your title.
However, that’s only with Amazon, and only with eBooks.
If you want your readers to get a hold of a print version of your book, then you’re going to need an ISBN.
This might be important if you have a brick and mortar marketing strategy, or if you want your book to be accessible through libraries (more on this later), or if you’re looking to deal with wholesalers or other online retailers.
Here’s a simple rule of thumb: if you want to sell your book by means other than as an ebook on Amazon, then you’ll need an ISBN.
How do I purchase an ISBN Number?
You might not even have to buy your ISBN number because of services offered to self-published authors. You can get assigned a free ISBN by Createspace, the On-Demand publishing company that has now merged with Amazon.
If you can get a free or cheap ISBN with them, then what’s the use in paying for your own one?
Let’s say you get a free ISBN with Draft2Digital, but then you notice that there are some retail channels you can access through Smashwords that you can’t with Draft2Digital. You can’t use the Draft2Digital ISBN with Smashwords. Smashwords will only let you use your own ISBN or an ISBN they assign to you. So what do you do?
You get a free ISBN with Smashwords.
And now you have two ISBNs for the same book. Same book title, same book format, but two ISBNs.
You then hear of some exclusive channels you can get through eBookPartnership. The only wrinkle? You need an ISBN and they won’t take your Smashwords’ or Draft2Digital’s ISBN. So you sign up for their free ISBN instead.
Now you have three ISBNs for the same book.
The Problem with Multiple ISBNs
This problem can repeat itself again and again as you discover more ways to distribute your book. Sometimes you’ll have to pay for the ISBN, sometimes you won’t. But it leads to you having several ISBNs, all from different publishers, for the same book.
Can you picture how unprofessional that looks to a bookstore?
Wouldn’t it have been easier to start off by buying your own ISBN? Wouldn’t that make you look more professional?
On top of this, each of those free ISBNs identifies the self-publishing company as a publisher. It’s the equivalent of using your business email address as [email protected] or [email protected] instead of [email protected] (assuming you’re named Matt).
Not only does this make you look unprofessional, but there are some stores that will refuse to stock your book on this basis. If you have a CreateSpace ISBN, there are a number of bookstores that will refuse to carry your book.
All of these issues can be sidestepped by simply purchasing your own ISBN through Bowker.
Libraries and ISBN Numbers
We briefly mentioned that if you want to stock your book in libraries, you’ll need an ISBN. However, that might be the furthest thing from your mind. You might have decided to focus purely on eBook publishing and what part do libraries play in eBooks?
A big one.
And guess what you need to be able to partner with Overdrive? Yup. An ISBN.
How to get an ISBN
ISBNs are free in many countries, provided either by the government or a publicly administered branch. However, in the US and the UK, ISBN numbers are administered by Bowker and Nielsen respectively and require you to pay.
If you’re located outside the USA you can find out your local ISBN Agency here. While ISBNs are assigned locally, you can use them internationally.
If you live in the USA, you have to get an ISBN through myidentifiers.com, run by Bowker, the only company that is authorized to administer the ISBN program in the United States. You can purchase ISBNs as a single unit or in bulk of 10, 100 or 1000.
How to Register Your Book and ISBN Number
As soon as you purchase your ISBN through Bowker or the International equivalent in your local area, and you publish your book, you should register here at Bowkerlink.
This is an automated tool that will add your book to Bowker’s Books In Print and Global Books In Print.
I recommend you download the free PDF “ISBN Guides: Title Set Up & Registration” with step-by-step instructions on setting up your title.
How Many ISBN Numbers To Get
So how many ISBNs should you get?
First off let’s clarify a few common mistakes:
- You can only use an ISBN once. The ISBN is a unique number for that particular book, and can be assigned once, and only once, to that title. It can’t be used with any other book in the future, even second versions of the same book.
- You don’t need an ISBN to sell in each individual country. ISBNs are international, they are just assigned locally. A US-based publisher can purchase their ISBN through Bowker, but can stock their book worldwide using that ISBN.
- You need an ISBN for every specific format of the book and any new versions. Want to sell your book in print, as an eBook, and also as an audiobook? That’s great, however, you need a different ISBN for each one. If you want to publish a revised and updated version you’ll also need a new ISBN. (This doesn’t cover fixing some typos and errors).
- If you create a series of books you can’t use the same ISBN for them. You can use the same ISSN, however. Many fiction and nonfiction authors have an ISSN number assigned to their book series. ISSN stands for International Standard Series Number and can be purchased from the Library of Congress. However, each book in the series will need its own ISBN.
We mentioned that in the USA you can buy ISBNs as a single unit, a bulk of 10, 100 or 1000. Here are the prices:
|Numbers of ISBN Numbers||Cost|
Buying a single ISBN might seem feasible if you only want to publish one title, but remember that you need an ISBN for each format. So if you want to publish your book as an audiobook, you’d need a brand new ISBN for that. As well as needing different ISBN numbers for your eBook and print versions.
Not to mention that you’ll need an ISBN number for any future books you publish, perhaps as sequels to your book.
We recommend that if you’re serious about making book sales, you should purchase at least a bulk of 10 ISBNs. That gives you 3 ISBN numbers to use for publishing as an eBook, in print, and as an audiobook. You can keep the remainder for any future books you might publish.
How to Get an ISBN final steps
Now that you have a very good idea how to buy and use ISBNs for your own books, all the best on setting this up. If you want to be recognized as a publisher and have your books available to a larger global audience by registering through Bowker, consider investing in your own ISBN numbers.
Think of it as buying a piece of property: You own it and it is registered in your name.
Here’s a simple actionable checklist for ISBNs.
To buy an ISBN for your next book, here is what you should do:
- Go to the website https://www.myidentifiers.com
- Under the ISBN drop down tab, click on ISBNs—Buy Here. You can select 1, 10 or 100. For a bulk purchase, go to “Buying ISBNs in Bulk” and you can contact Bowker directly to discuss your options.
- Once you have your ISBN assigned, you can then use it everywhere that requires your ISBN number.
- At Createspace, under the “Setup” channel, you can choose to have Createspace assign you an ISBN. When you buy your own ISBN at Bowker, just put in the 13-digit number and Createspace will use this in your paperback.
- If you publish your paperback through KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing), you can fill in your number in the “Paperback Content” section of your book when you log into your bookshelf. If you choose to have Createspace assign you an ISBN, KDP will ask for your 13-digit number if you are transferring your physical version over to KDP.
- Register your ISBN here at Bowker as soon as your book is ready for sale. Download the free ISBN Guides: Title Set Up & Registration step-by-step guide.
ISBN Links & Resources
These links appeared throughout the post but here they are for easy access.
International ISBN Agency
ISBN.org by Bowker
Bowkerlink Publisher Access System
Bowker Identifier Services
U.S. Copyright Office
Are you clear on how to get an ISBN and why exactly you need one? Comment below if you bulked up and got your ISBNs for future books, too!
You already know this:
Writing is hard.
It’s so difficult, in fact, that there are countless resources online dedicated to helping you better understand and improve the craft.
We here at Self-Publishing School are even committed to giving you the best advice out there.
But we wanted to offer you more.
If You’re Ready to Get Started NOW – Watch This Right Away
Don’t waste any more time than you already have.
Before we get into the meat of which blog posts are the best and what unique qualities they have to offer, let’s set you down the path for success.
You’re here because you want to learn more about writing.
We get it. In fact, we already put together a free training guide for you with all the information you need to know.
11 of the Best Writing Blogs for Tips and Advice
If you’re not quite serious yet about getting your book published yet, we’ve put together a list of the best writing blogs to learn and grow from.
These are the top resources for you to use in order to expand your knowledge and improve your craft.
Here are the best writing blogs we’ll cover for you:
- The Write Life
- Writer’s Digest
- Write to Done
- The Write Practice
- Count Blogula by Jenna Moreci
- The Creative Penn
- Terribleminds by Chuck Wendig
- Daily Writing Tips
- Better Novel Project
- Shayla Raquel
Let’s dive into exactly what these blogs have to offer and why you should be paying close attention to them if you want to improve your writing, finish your book, and get it published!
#1 – The Write Life
If you’ve been searching through the writing community long enough, you’re probably already aware of all The Write Life has to offer.
This writing blog is a fantastic resource for writers of all kind.
Whether you’re looking to write a book for the first time or jump into the freelance writing community, The Write Life has you covered.
They even have tips for blogging and marketing. All the bases are covered!
Make sure to check out their helpful blog posts and read the comments for extra help from their dedicated community.
#2 – Writer’s Digest
If you love writing tips by writers, this is one of the top writing blogs to visit.
This writing blog is all about uncovering your potential through real, easy-to-follow blog posts that simplify more complicated issues in the writing community.
They even host competitions, feature blog posts by editors, and give you insights to events they host or even attend.
If you’re someone who loves to physically join a writing group, you’ll love this writing blog and all it has to offer.
#3 – Write to Done
There are a lot of different avenues writers have to be aware of when it comes to building a successful career from their work.
And Write to Done gives you just that!
Covering both fiction and nonfiction writing, Write to Done teaches you how to master a number of different techniques and habits geared toward helping you succeed in the literary world.
You don’t want to miss out on all the advice they have to offer along with motivational material to help you keep it up.
#4 – The Write Practice
The Write Practice is a massive source of helpful information for writers everywhere. They cover blog posts touching on topics revolving around key writing practices, writing exercises, and even writing prompts to get your mind stirring.
You won’t be without help with The Write Practice.
Not only do they offer free help through their blog posts, but they also have programs, writing contests, and help involving your author platform in general.
#5 – Count Blogula by Jenna Moreci
Jenna Moreci is an Award-Nominated Self-Published Author with two novels on Amazon, in libraries, and on shelves all over the country.
Count Blogula is where aspiring authors congregate to ask specific writing, marketing, and publishing questions to be answered by this wildly successful Youtuber and Self-Published Author.
Moreci is honest (sometimes brutally – in the best way), real, and lets all writers know what it truly takes to make a career out of writing.
Head on over to her blog if you want to scroll through pages and pages and pages of free writing advice by someone who has been through it all before.
#6 – The Creative Penn
If your goal is to make a living from your writing, it’s worth giving The Creative Penn a read.
This website has blog posts covering topics from genre-specific writing advice to marketing to publishing tips.
Joanna Penn is an Award-nominated, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author and she runs The Creative Penn to teach others how to reach her level of success with their books.
She has a number of writing-specific books available for purchase along with podcasts, courses, specific tools, and more.
#7 – Terribleminds by Chuck Wendig
Chuck Wendig has a must-acquire-a-taste-for personality. He’s curt, brutal, and gives humor to his writing tips and advice for aspiring authors.
His blog covers topics ranging from his own personal work and the work of others to help you specifically ask for.
You’ll never be bored with Wendig’s unique delivery style and real advice.
#8 – Daily Writing Tips
Daily Writing Tips is exactly as it sounds; they give writing tips for aspiring authors daily.
Their advice ranges from writing-specific to motivation to oddities, like words that Shakespeare invented.
If you’re someone who wants to improve the craft of writing with very specific tips and tricks, this is the place to frequent. You’ll never want for more help with Daily Writing Tips.
#9 – Better Novel Project
If you love doodles along with writing tips, this is the site for you.
Better Novel Project has a number of different blog posts centered around helping you become a better writer.
From NaNoWriMo content to blog posts all about genres, writer life, and even writing scene-specific details.
It’s easy to get lost the abundance of content available for you on this writing blog – so be careful, but get your fill.
#10 – Well-Storied
Kristen Kieffer is the author behind Well-Storied, as well as an author of fantasy and writing resources.
Not only does she offer great writing advice, but her dedication to helping writers uncover their true abilities is nearly unmatched.
You can check out her free courses, listen to the podcast, and even participate in her community chats.
Well-Storied has an abundance of help in the writing-world and you’ll be better off by tuning in regularly!
#11 – Shayla Raquel
Shayla Raquel’s writing blog is filled to the brim will knowledge regarding all aspects of writing. From prepping to writing to marketing, she has you covered.
As an editor and seasoned writer herself, Shayla works one-on-one with authors nearly every day. She has edited over 300 books and launched Amazon Bestsellers – making her experienced and competent!
All of these writing blogs have something unique to offer that you won’t find any anywhere else. When it comes to learning any craft – especially writing – it’s important to broaden your search and learn as much as you can from as many talented minds as you can.
ARE YOU READY TO BECOME AN AUTHOR ON YOUR OWN?
Your writing blog and expertise could be up here one day with some of the best!
But you have to commit to taking action and writing your book first.
And we’re here to help you on your journey to write, market, and publish your book. But only if you’re serious about making this a reality.
Do you have any favorite writing blogs? Comment them down below!
You might not like to hear this.
But NaNoWriMo can often take a toll on you mentally and even creatively.
It might not make sense to you now, but you’ll understand just how much NaNoWriMo can affect you in a little bit.
First, let’s talk about what makes NaNoWriMo unique and special.
What is NaNoWriMo?
NaNoWriMo is short for National Novel Writing Month.
It’s an event that takes place over the course of November where writers from all over commit to writing 50,000 words during the month. That’s the main goal and if you accomplish this, that’s how you WIN NaNoWriMo.
So unfortunately, no, NaNoWriMo not some sort of nanobot that you can implant in your mind to write your book for you.
The entire point is to help writers have a month of very high productivity so they can get the first draft out of the way in order to pave the way for editing, rewriting, and overall polishing.
What can take writers months to accomplish (50,000 words) only needs to take one so the book gets finished faster.
Here are your daily, weekly, and total goals for NaNoWriMo. If you’re someone who likes to work on a weekly basis instead of a daily, this will help you.
|Daily Word Count||Weekly Word Count||Total Word Count Goal|
How to Prepare for NaNoWriMo
One of the best things you can do if you want to win NaNoWriMo is to prepare properly. There’s a reason those who participate dub October as Preptober.
Here are a few things you can do to make sure you’re ready when NaNoWriMo comes to town.
#1 – Download your survival guide!
When it comes to making it through NaNoWriMo, you might need help. It’ll be a tough month and that’s why we put together this survival guide for you to follow.
It covers expanded preparation steps as well as resources to help you get through the month.
Make sure to download this if you want to win NaNoWriMo this year!
#2 – Pick a story
If you haven’t already, you have to decide which story you’re going to write. If you’re anything like me, you might have tons of book ideas bouncing around inside your head.
So how do you choose which to write and which to save for later?
Here are a few questions I like to ask myself when deciding which story to try first:
- Which do you think about the most?
- Which is developed the most?
- Which one is a book you’d be most likely to pick up and read yourself?
- Which one have you been thinking of as you read these questions?
Chances are, there’s one idea that stands out to you above all the rest. Even if the others are good, the story you’re most connected to and think about the most is the one you’ll actually enjoy writing the most.
And since you’ll be spending a great deal of time on this book over the next month, actually enjoying it is very important.
Pick the one that has your passion and run with it.
#3 – OUTLINE
I’m a personal advocate of outlining. My outlines are very detailed and I want to basically have an instruction manual for my book.
That being said, it’s understandable that not everyone works well with an outline. Maybe it’s not for you.
However, going into NaNoWriMo completely blind is a mistake.
You at least want to have an overview of the plot and the major plot points figured out so you have a direction in which to write.
For those of you who need outlining, make sure it’s done before November starts!
That clear, step-by-step overview of your book will be extremely helpful for saving time. You’ll be able to sit down and get to writing instead of spending so much time trying to figure out where your story is going.
#4 – Join support groups
Going through something as arduous as NaNoWriMo requires some backup…preferably in the form of friends or just other people participating as well.
You all know that it’s going to be hard and therefore, you can count on support groups to help propel you through the tough times.
Support groups are your best bet to stay motivated throughout the entire month. Plus, anyone who’s a part of those groups is usually more than willing to help when you get stuck on your story, too.
So where do you find groups like these?
You can follow specific hashtags or accounts on Twitter, or you can join Facebook groups dedicated to NaNoWriMo.
Here are a few Facebook groups you can join right now to help you make it through:
#5 – Get in the right mindset
The reason NaNoWriMo is so difficult isn’t because of the fact that you’re writing a book; it’s because you’re writing so much of your book in such a short amount of time. It’s scary.
And that can be intimidating to a number of people – most of us, I’d wager to bet.
That means one of your biggest obstacles isn’t plotting your novel or making sure you’re physically prepared, it’s making sure you’re mentally ready to complete such a tough goal.
That means focusing on your inspiration, motivation, and staying positive!
You can find other methods of maintaining the right mindset in our NaNoWriMo survival guide.
#6 – Schedule your writing time
This is one of the absolute best ways to ensure you actually make it through NaNoWriMo in one piece – and even win!
It’s as simple as making a schedule for yourself and then sticking to it.
Anyone can mark their days to write on a calendar but it takes a special kind of writer to sit down daily and hit those word count goals.
We actually put together a progress tracking and planning spreadsheet that calculates your percentage completed in our NaNoWriMo survival guide! You can find what that looks like below.
You can use this all year round, not just in November. Give it a download if you want to make some real progress this month.
Being able to win NaNoWriMo is the entire goal of entering. You want to complete 50,000 words in a single month. But that’s much easier said than done.
I decided to pull out the big guns and ask for some help from my personal Twitter followers since I know many of them participate in this yearly.
I tweeted out asking for help, and they did NOT disappoint.
Whether you won or have not yet completed it, I still want your help!
— Bella Rose Pope (@BellaRosePope) October 15, 2018
Here are some of the tips I received on the thread of this tweet along with some extended tips to help you make the most of NaNoWriMo this month.
#1 – Pick a daily word count and focus on hitting that only
When you think about the overall goal of writing 50,000, you might begin to sweat, get anxious, and even feel discouraged.
Because it is a lot of words to write in a single month.
But one of the biggest tips experienced NaNoWriMo-ers have for anyone venturing to accomplish such an audacious goal is to only focus on hitting your daily goal.
So instead of thinking about it as 50,000 words a month, think of it as 1667 words a day.
This helps your mind process the amount better so you don’t get so overwhelmed.
#2 – Put together writing playlists
Inspiration doesn’t just exactly come around whenever you want it to. Sometimes it hides away like you might when winter comes around (just me?).
But the thing is, if every writer waited for inspiration to find them in order to write, hardly any of us would get our books done and we’d definitely not make it through NaNoWriMo with 50,000 words accomplished.
So instead, you might have to coax inspiration from the outskirts of your mind and one way many writers do this is through music.
Create a playlist that fits with the style of your story and turn it on whenever you sit down to write. It can serve as inspiration and a mental cue for your mind to get ready to work.
#3 – Have writing motivation and inspiration handy
Just like I mentioned above, you won’t always want to write but in order to hit your goal for November, you need to write daily (unless you want to sit and write huge chunks of words a couple days a week).
When you keep visuals, quotes, and even other novels that have inspired your own writing journey handy, it’s much easier to get in the mood to crank out some high-quality words.
#4 – Commit to NOT editing at all
This is one of the hardest parts for many who’ve done NaNoWriMo before.
They can get the words down, but only if they don’t stop to edit as they go.
Your first draft is better done than perfect, which is the entire point of NaNoWriMo in the first place. So put the editor part of your mind on hold and let your writer-brain take full ownership over the next month.
#5 – Ask friends/family to leave you alone
I realize this might sound harsh but NaNoWriMo is a commitment. You can’t have friends and family bugging you when it’s your designated writing time.
In order to succeed with NaNoWriMo, it’s best to make it clear to everyone around you that you’ll be unreachable for a specific amount of time whenever you write.
If you set that expectation early on and be stern about it, it’ll be easier to avoid this type of distraction throughout the month.
#6 – Recruit a close accountability partner
If writing groups don’t work for you because your posts get lost in the mix, pairing up with someone for one-on-one accountability might be a better option for you.
You can check-in daily and give each other support and encouragement when it gets tough.
And trust me, by the second week, you’ll need someone there to push you along and remind you why you started this lofty task in the first place.
#7 – Use a distraction-free writing app
There are a ton of writing software and apps out there designed to help you write – and write faster.
One of the best to use is an app called Freedom.
What this app does is cut off access to certain websites or apps for a determined amount of time. Whenever you try to visit those sites (like Twitter) during the time you have scheduled to write, you’ll receive this message:
This prevents you from procrastinating or getting too distracted, which hinders your word count progress.
The idea here is that this app “frees” you from the addiction and distraction of sites you know you get sucked into easily.
#8 – Turn your notifications off
This is for your phone, social media, email, and any other notifications that might pop up during your writing time.
If you use the app mentioned above, this will be a little easier, but you also have to manually keep your phone far away from you so even text messages won’t break through your concentration.
Just me, those messages will still be there by the time you’re done with writing.
#9 – Never guilt-shame yourself
This will be very hard if, for whatever reason, you don’t end up hitting your word count goal daily. You’ll start to shame yourself, even if only internally.
This isn’t productive in any way, shape, or form and it’ll only slow you down further.
Instead, you should recognize when you’re behind, and then schedule the time to catch up if hitting that 50,000 words is truly important to you.
And if you need a little bit more to help you out with this one, just remember that no matter what, you’re making progress on your book and that alone is a major accomplishment.
#10 – Just write
NaNoWriMo is all about just making progress. That progress doesn’t have to be the best version of what you can do, it just has to be progress.
You can forget all about making your manuscript all shiny and perfect. Instead, just focus on pumping out those words.
Write to the best of your ability given the time you have to hit those words.
After all, the large majority of us tend to write best once we get into the groove of just writing anyway. And that means if you shut off the self-critical part of your brain for a while, you can make some major strides.
#11 – Go easy on yourself
Cut yourself some slack. You’re not perfect and writing can be very difficult.
If something comes up and you’re not able to write for a day, just forget about it and get back on track the next.
There’s no point in driving yourself crazy over missing a few thousand words because like I said above, you’re still making progress on your book and that’s the entire point of NaNoWriMo in the first place.
What to do Next – Only if You’re Serious
Writing a book isn’t for those who just choose to do it on a whim. Those people aren’t serious and therefore, these next steps won’t help them.
But if you are completely serious about writing and completing a book, we have a few next steps that will help you get there.
#1 – Your free training
If you haven’t taken advantage of this free training offered by Chandler Bolt, you’re making a mistake.
#2 – NaNoWriMo Survival Guide
Download your guide if you haven’t already. This is full of helpful advice and resources that will make this entire process much easier!
Plus, you’ll have some peace of mind knowing you’re doing all you can to succeed.
#3 – Follow us on Twitter for daily NaNoWriMo motivation!
That’s right. Every day during the month of November, we’ll be serving up quotes, videos, and general motivation and inspiration so you’ll feel ready and excited to start writing ASAP.
Make sure to give us a follow and tweet us what your book is about!
We’d love to hear what everyone’s tackling during this month and you might even meet an accountability partner in the mix.
NaNoWriMo is no easy feat. If it was, everyone would participate, but they don’t. You are, and because we admire that in you so much, we made these tips to help you succeed.
Good luck and let us know how your progress is going in the comments below!
We all know that self-publishing can sometimes have a less-than-desirable reputation.
It might seem like it’s impossible to make a career out of being a self-published author.
I even thought as much – until I started following Jenna Moreci on Youtube.
This author has not only given me countless pieces of advice via her Youtube channel, Tumblr blog, and even just chatting, but she has paved the way for self-published authors by proving that you can be successful and write books for a living – even if you self-publish!
For those of you unfamiliar, Jenna Moreci is a self-made full-time author and Youtuber. She currently has two novels published, each the first in their respective series.
(YES! Her books are even in bookstores and libraries across the country!)
When Jenna’s not pumping out incredible books, she’s over on Youtube giving out some of the best advice for writing and self-publishing out there. Her Youtube channel has amassed over 147,000 subscribers – and climbing rapidly.
This growth has granted her many opportunities – two of which are extremely high-quality marketing classes on Skillshare.
One is all about building a platform and fan base as a writer and the other details the process of having a successful book launch – something she did only a few short months ago in April when she released her second novel, The Savior’s Champion.
Let’s kick off this interview so you can learn how you can also create a living through your books!
Tell us a little bit about your career as an author – how did you get to where you are today?
Well, I wanted to be a writer since I was a little kid. I basically decided when I was 6-years-old that this is what I wanted to be, and I guess I was a very tenacious kid because I just stuck with it.
But, you know, especially back in those days – back in the 90s – there was kind of a stigma around creatives and starving artists.
So, people weren’t super supportive. They were like, “Don’t you want to be a doctor, don’t you want to be a CEO?” Things like that.
And eventually, that kind of talk sort of wore me down and by the time I was in college, I sort of figured writing would be something I did on the side – something I did for fun.
So I went to college for business instead. And I entered the world of finance and when I graduated, I got a full-time job as a stockbroker. I figured that’s what I was going to do with my life and writing would just be some fun thing I did in my spare time.
As I started working in finance longer and longer, I sort of had this realization that like, “Wow…this is what I’m going to do..for the rest of my life…and I HATE it.”
I just could NOT stand my job. I would get there and be counting the hours until I got off so I could do something I actually enjoyed.
So I realized, “You know what, I don’t think I can take this forever.” And I’ve always been passionate about writing so…I might as well just give it a shot. If it doesn’t work out, I can at least say I tried. I can at least have that in the back of my mind, that closure that it’s not for me.
Then I started working on my first novel, EVE: The Awakening.
And I would go to work and right when I get home after work I immediately started my book. My thought was, “I just want it to be a lucrative part-time job, something that fulfills me, something I look forward to once I get off work.”
That lasted for a few years. Toward the end of the process, my then boyfriend and now fiance, he had a serious accident and he broke his spine.
I quit my job so that I could sign on to be his full-time caregiver. At that point, everything went on hold. It was all about his health.
Then as he got better, time started showing up in my schedule. So I was like “okay, I can finish my book and I can market it and I can try to get it out there and try to develop an audience.”
People had nagged me to start a Youtube channel for a long time so I thought, “I’m stuck at home…might as well give it a shot. I can say I tried!”
I started the Youtube channel.
And at first it was pretty slow but then I made a satirical video called the 9 Weird Habits of Writers and suddenly my channel just took off.
It got all these subscribers and it was getting all this attention and long story short, by the time I was able to release EVE: The Awakening, what with the growth of my platform and the growth of my channel, I was able to make writing my job.
And now I’m a full-time author and I have a Youtube channel and it’s crazy! I did not think that I would be here.
I feel very fortunate because my main goal, originally, was to just one day – not anytime soon – but one day be able to make a living off my writing. And I figured, maybe that’ll happen when I’m like 40.
But I was able to do it at 28 – and now I’m 31 and this is my job and I feel so fortunate that I’m able to do what I love and make money off of it, especially after hearing for so many years that it’s impossible.
But it’s not!
So did you immediately decide you wanted to self-publish? What made you decide to go with self-publishing versus traditional publishing?
Well originally, I was going to go traditional. For the same reasons most people initially decide traditional.
They’re like, “That’s the legitimate option. You’re a real writer if you go traditional and self-publishing, there’s no success there; it’s vanity press.”
The more I researched it, the more I realized how little I knew about the industry.
I basically spent years researching the different publishing options. I interviewed at least 20 different authors, both self-published and traditionally published authors.
A lot of people see the New York Times bestsellers, the JK Rowlings, John Greens, Stephen King – they see that and they think that’s the reflection of traditional publishing. And it is a reflection of a small percentage of traditional publishing and traditionally published authors.
But there are millions of authors out there who are traditionally published and they’re just not getting that kind of exposure. That’s the 99% of traditionally published authors.
You go into the process, you get maybe a $10,000 advance, and that’s not really enough to live off of. That’s just like a nice side gig.
And this was something I wanted to eventually make my full-time job.
So once I learned that, and that traditional publishers weren’t going to market me the way I thought they were, I thought, “Okay, well this changes things a little bit. But let me interview the different authors.”
When I interviewed the traditionally published author, she said it took her 20 years and around 15 books to before she was able to make it a full-time job.
And that, for me, was really eye-opening because I had a self-published author who had sold one book and he was on his way to being a full-time author and a traditionally published author who spent 20 years trying to get her publisher to pay attention to her.
After that, doing more research, it became clear that the business control, more than anything, was the reason self-publishing seemed like the best fit for me.
No one was going to care more about the success of my novel and the success of my platform than I was.
I figured, I might as well just bet on myself because it looked like publishers were probably not going to give me the kind of attention I would need in order to make this a career, which is what I wanted to do.
Speaking of the business part, do you think that having that background in business and finance has helped you as a self-published author?
Oh definitely. It’s funny because I went into the degree very jaded because it’s not what I wanted to do; I wanted to be a writer.
I went into it like, “This is not what I want but it’s what my family expects of me.”
And now, if I were to go back, I wouldn’t change a thing because it was my knowledge of business, my background working in finance, that gave me the tools I needed in order to take the place of a publisher.
Because a lot of writers choose traditional publishing because they don’t understand business.
I understood the business parts, and when I saw the sort of things publishers do for writers, a lot of it was something I could do and knew how to do because I learned it in business school.
And the things that I didn’t know how to do were things that were easy to learn because of what I learned in school and when I worked as a stockbroker.
I’m really grateful for my business background because it filled in the blanks of being a writer and I basically was able to, very easily, translate that into acting as my own publishing house, pretty much.
So, going off of the business aspect being a huge misconception for self-published authors, what do you think are other major misconceptions of self-publishing?
I think one of the biggest misconceptions is a lot of people thinking, “I’m just going to throw my book online, and that’s it!”
That’s not it.
There are millions of books online. What are the odds someone’s randomly going to see yours and just decide, “I’ve never heard of this, but I’m going to buy it.”
You have to market it. You have to treat it like a business. You have to understand that your book is your art. Yes, you are an artist, but it is also a product that you’re selling to people.
So you have to be aware of how you package that product.
Which means it needs to be edited. There is no wiggle room. Just hire an editor – just do it.
Your book is not going to perform well without one. The same goes for formatting. It needs to be professionally formatted and needs to have a professional cover.
This is the packaging of your product.
You could write the most amazing novel. It could be the next great American novel and no one will buy it if the cover looks like crap. It’s just not going to happen.
Are there any other misconceptions you see aside from that?
I think another misconception, especially recently, there’s been a misconception that you can’t do well in self-publishing, that it’s not legitimate.
That seems to be going away over time. I’ve only had maybe 2 people say anything to me about it not being legitimate.
So I think that misconception isn’t as big nowadays, especially with so many New York Times Bestselling authors who are self-published and authors getting movie deals.
But one thing that’s especially become popular recently is pumping and dumping.
That’s where an author will write as many books as they can in a year, like one book every two to six months and they just pump it out and pump it out.
And that’s become a model for self-published authors making a lot of money and being successful.
There is some weight to it and it is working for some people, but the point is that it significantly diminished the quality of the book and it’s not viable for a long-lasting platform because people become loyal to authors because they trust in the quality of their work.
So if you’re constantly pumping out of very low quality, no one’s really going to become loyal to you, they won’t become a loyal fan.
You’re just going to constantly “pump and dump” for the rest of your life in order to maintain an income because you’re not really going to develop a fan base or a legitimate audience.
And I think that’s what a lot of people think is the only way to make it in self-publishing nowadays.
But I’m living proof that you can take your time and spend a year or two on a book and you can still turn it into a full-time job if you take the time and invest in the quality of it.
So where do you see self-published authors making the biggest mistakes overall?
Honestly? The number one thing is the edit.
You know, self-published authors not getting their books edited. Now, the cover is something you can maybe overlook but the edit – you have to just edit the book!
Please, do it!
And that’s the thing. Anytime I see someone who is kind of apprehensive about self-published books, that’s always what they mention; that the books are not edited.
So just edit it, guys! That will end the stigma entirely!
Has self-publishing changed in any way since you published EVE: The Awakening in 2015?
Back then, like I said, I wasn’t receiving any flack or anything like that for self-publishing. In my whole career, I’ve only had two people say something about it.
So I think it was viable then, but it’s way more viable now.
There are way more options. When I published EVE: The Awakening, there was pretty much the option to have your book in ebook and paperback. That was pretty much it.
Now, you can do audiobooks, hardbacks and additionally, there’s much more expanded distribution.
For example, The Savior’s Champion is on Barnes and Noble’s shelves and in bookstores across the country.
Whereas with EVE: The Awakening, that wasn’t even something on my radar. I wasn’t even thinking about that because you never heard about self-published books being in bookstores.
So I’ve got the audiobook for The Savior’s Champion is in the publication process right now. We have the hardback available, it’s in bookstores, and the options for self-published authors is very similar to where they are for traditionally published authors.
There really aren’t that many limitations – except self-published writers typically have to price their books higher because they don’t get as many pricing discount opportunities that traditionally published authors do.
So I would say the biggest limitation is pricing but other than that, we have the same access to distribution channels that they do.
It’s crazy. The options are limitless!
You know a lot about the whole self-publishing world and the writing world. Pretty much your entire Tumblr blog is people asking you questions about the writing and publishing process. So what kind of advice do you have for people who decided to go with self-publishing versus traditional publishing?
My first piece of advice is to research the industry as much as possible.
What I see often is a lot of people see self-publishing and think that means, find a self-publishing group and publish directly through them where you pay an upfront fee and then you’re paying them to publish the book for you.
That’s not necessarily what self-publishing is. You can self-publish through Amazon and Ingramspark. There are lots of different opportunities available to you.
And if you don’t do the appropriate research, you may end up getting scammed. You may end up getting suckered.
So be sure to research the environment, research all the platforms, and make the decision that works best for you.
Additionally, start saving your money.
Because the biggest downfall for self-publishing is that it’s expensive. You’re paying for everything. Start saving and create a budget so when the time comes to hire an editor, you’re not sitting there going, “Oh I