what is a protagonist

Main Character: How to Write a Kickass Main Character Your Readers Will Love

Readers will show up to your metaphorical yard for a good story…but they will come back for a good protagonist…

And we’ll teach you how to write a main character your readers will love, root for, and even cry for.

You have the story you want to tell. You know exactly how to write the novel…however, you’re not sure how to make your protagonist stand out—how to make readers love them.

And that’s the key, after all…

When your book is years old and readers have long since read it, it’s the main character they’ll remember, the joy and fear and happiness they experienced on behalf of that protagonist that will make them remember your book—and you!

protagonist

Here are the steps for writing a protagonist and main character:

  1. Learn what a protagonist is
  2. Understand a protagonist vs antagonist
  3. Learn from protagonist examples
  4. Make your main character likable
  5. Give them a sense of humor
  6. Make your protagonist powerful
  7. Give your protagonist trouble
  8. Give them several of these qualities
  9. Avoid making a passive protagonist

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

What is a protagonist?

The protagonist of a story is the leading or main character in a book, movie, short story, play, or other works of fiction. They are the person the story centers around and the character readers will root for to succeed.

Essentially, the protagonist of a book is the one whose goals and ambitions are a part of the main plot, often thwarted by the antagonist, who wants to see them fail for their own personal motives to succeed.

Your main character possesses characteristics that are redeemable and lovable—they’re who your readers will grow most attached to and want to see win and succeed in their ventures throughout the plot of your novel.

What’s the difference between a protagonist and a main character?

Protagonists and the main character can be the same, however, not every main character is a protagonist.

For example, when writing split perspective novels, the protagonist might just be a single character, but the other points of view are also main characters.

A main character is any character that plays a pivotal part in the plot and journey of the protagonist.

Here are a few examples of protagonists versus main characters:

Protagonist (and the main character):

  • Jon Snow
  • Harry Potter
  • Katniss Everdeen
  • Tobias Kaya

Main character (but NOT the protagonist):

  • Cersei Lannister
  • Ron Weasley
  • Peeta Mellark
  • The Savior

What counts as a main character in a story?

The main character in a story is someone who plays an active role in the progression of the plot and story. This includes both the protagonist, antagonist, and other active characters.

For example, your protagonist’s best friend can be a main character (like Ron Weasley), but so can the antagonist (like Voldemort).

You can have several different main characters but usually only one protagonist in your novel.

The difference between main characters and side characters is that a side character typically serves a different purpose in your novel. They might not be directly impacting the plot, but may serve as comic relief, a foil character type to your main character, or even play a specific role to tie different characters together.

An example of a side character is Nick Fury in The Marvel Comics. Most often, the superheroes are the main characters (and protagonists), but Fury is often a side character with the purpose of connecting plot points, but not necessarily moving them forward on his own.

protagonist main characters

Protagonist Versus Antagonist

The protagonist is the character who is trying to accomplish a specific goal while the antagonist is any character or organization opposing them.

The antagonist is often found to be synonymous with “villain,” but this isn’t always the case.

The antagonist of a story is anything or anyone opposing your protagonist. Their goal is to stop them for whatever reason, usually because their own motivations and goals contradict theirs.

Take Cersei Lannister, for example. The popular franchise Game of Thrones unveiled a very specific type of antagonist in Cersei because if you read or watch from her own perspective, she is the protagonist of her own story.

This is one of the golden rules of writing antagonists and any sort of “villainous” character.

George R.R. Martin pulled this off beautifully by making Cersei Lannister the antagonist to other main characters like Jon Snow, the Starks, and Daenerys Targaryen, but because (in the books) we’re offered her point of view, she’s actually the protagonist of her own life journey.

Nevertheless, she is still considered the antagonist—as are the White Walkers.

Protagonist Examples

The reason why so many popular books are a series of books (other than the author wanting to make a living writing several books). We all want to see the next adventure of a character we love.

At some point, if you like the character enough, you stop caring what they are even getting up to (almost) and you just want to know more about them and their life.

Think of any engaging character you’ve encountered in the past decade. These characters could have stopped after one go, but they keep coming back with new and interesting things to do. Sometimes they engage in stand-alone stories, other times their continuing adventures are part of an arc that shows off their growth over a series.

character development arc

Here are some examples of great protagonists:

How to Write a Good Protagonist Your Readers Will Remember

Not every character is worth coming back for. The staying power of a character comes from more than simply surviving the plot (though that usually helps).

You need to do intense character development and give them some special quality and/or make them likable. In other words, make them kickass.

While that is easier said than done, it isn’t too hard to do. Here are six ways to put some kick in your character.

#1 – Make Your Protagonist Likable

People like to spend time with likable characters. Much like in real life, the off-putting people tend to get skipped over and left to the side.

Think of any Tom Hanks character in any of his romantic comedies. He always plays a likeable guy, a guy you’d happily have over for dinner, spend the day with, hang with.

His charisma and charm extend from there, making his characters in dramas more approachable.

In the same way, if your make a character likable and personable, the reader will stick by them in the tough spots. They will care about the events that happen because they like the character.

Consider the way a slasher flick sets up the characters. You know from the introduction who is going to survive the night and who isn’t. The heroes (usually a couple) stand for the same values as the audience. They are kind, good, and moral. They look out for their fellow characters in times of danger.

A likable character sticks up for the little guy and adds a human quality to their supporting cast, even when that cast isn’t remotely human.

When a character feels like a guide, it makes the reader feel safe. Especially in horror or thriller stories, you want the reader to be more excited to turn the page and see the next scene than they are hesitant.

Examples of these likable main characters include:

#2 – Make Them Funny

Not quite the same as likable and not quite the opposite either. Funny characters can get away with more than unfunny ones, but they can get annoying if pushed.

Like any good joke, timing and delivery matter.

Biting wit and a jocular look at the dangers all around make for some memorable character moments. Make writing dialogue for this type of character worth some outbursts of laughter and you’ll have your reader turning the pages with gleeful delight.

Funny isn’t just jokes consisting of set up and punchline. You definitely don’t want to rely on a string of catchphrase utterance, no matter how much a Groot might work on occasion.

The essence of wit is brevity. Quips work when they are insightful but also come from a real place.

Be extra careful in establishing the background of a metacharacter. Deadpool’s humor doesn’t fly in all stories at all times.

Funny can also mean awkward or accidentally funny.

Think Ron in Harry Potter. He doesn’t mean to be funny… he’s awkward, but in a lovable, hilarious way and we love him for it.

The falls into trouble and falls back out of it style of character goes way back to Greek comedies. The setup for a comedy of errors relies on a likable fellow getting in over their heads and trying not to make a mess as they work it out.

Examples of funny characters:

  • Starlord and Rocket Raccoon in Guardians of the Galaxy
  • Sherlock Holmes in the latest reboots
  • Tyrian Lannister in Game of Thrones
  • Simon Pegg’s Scotty

#3 – Make Your Protagonist Powerful

A character that lacks the ability to affect the world around them becomes tiresome. We want heroes challenged, sure, but we also want to know they can succeed. That when faced with the dangers of the plot and the villains they have a shot that, when it comes down to it, they can kick some ass.

Tony Stark isn’t just a billionaire. He’s a billionaire genius. Take away his armor and he’s still a beloved figure with money, brains, fame and the awareness to point it all that out, if pressed on the subject.

good protagonist

The reason we love underdog characters is because they are secretly the most powerful. They have the power to rise up and supersede the challenges, they just aren’t there yet. The likable, funny exterior makes you root for a character, but you want them to win in the end because they are better than the competition.

If your character is a lawyer, they’re the best lawyer in town. If they are entering an academy to become a pilot, they are on the path to be the best pilot.

A powerful character (ie- the best at something) garners respect from the reader.

Remember to keep the character likable, a powerful character that uses their power to do harm becomes a villain. Redemption arcs aside, you want to avoid both a snotty character and a character that can’t be challenged.

Powerful doesn’t mean perfect.

One of the bonuses of being great at something is that people are quick to forgive them some of flaws. Tony Stark is arrogant. We forgive him that because there is a good reason why he’s arrogant.

Genius characters can get away with being antisocial, wholesome characters can be naïve, and effective characters can be forgiven some moral grey areas.

Unless you are writing noir, you want to keep the positives outshining the negatives. That balance can flip a bit for antiheroes (ie Deadpool, John Wick) but often takes a darker world to be effective.

#4 – Give Your Protagonist Trouble and Conflict

Conflict makes character. Conflict that stems from the characters internal conflicts leads to a different emotional response than conflict that stems from inevitable outside forces.

Case in point, we immediately feel sorry for Jack and Rose because we know the Titanic is going down and there isn’t anything that either character could do to avoid that fate.

We feel a lot less for Superman and Batman in their Doomsday fight when they need a device they casually tossed aside an hour ago.

The more a conflict resonates with the reader, the more they can identify with the character.

While saving the world from the terrible forces of an overwhelming alien order is fun, it isn’t relatable. It isn’t the kind of thing you are likely to face in a day.

You personalize it by bringing it down to the granular. You make it about a particular personal loss, not all the losses.

Examples of great conflict with protagonists:

  • We empathize with Harry Potter because he’s an orphan, not because he’s a wizard in the wrong world.
  • We understand what it’s like not to be believed, not so much dying and being resurrected by magic like Jon Snow.
  • We want to make a difference like Hawkeye, knowing that what we do matters even if we aren’t Thor level powerful.

Be warned: there is a difference between the reader empathizing with a character and pitying them.

  • Jack and Rose are good people enjoying life. They make the most of their last days.
  • Harry Potter is a school kid trying his best. He (almost) never wallows in self-pity over his trials and problems.
  • Thor loses his hammer and his eye. He makes jokes about his problems while trying to solve them instead of giving up.

#5 – Give Them Diverse Characteristics

Character’s shouldn’t be one dimensional cardboard cut-outs. You want to make them rich and full.

To this end, you don’t need to stick to one technique.

As the preceding examples overlapped quite a bit, you see that mixing and matching works better than solo applications.

write a main character

Mix and match your protagonist’s characteristics like these examples:

  • Tony Stark is powerful, likable, and funny
  • Harry Potter is likable, in a situation that’s relatable but outside his control
  • Kirk is likable, often in danger outside himself, and has the skill to outpace his faults

You don’t want to overdo it. A character that is trying to be too many things can become cluttered and confusing. Sometimes this is a result of the Superman problem, you can’t directly challenge a character designed to be too good.

Flaws make for an anchor for a reader to project themselves into a character.

Also, nobody likes a story where the plot dictates the effectiveness of the character from page to page.

You also don’t want to alienate an audience by creating a dreaded Mary Sue (which is a “perfect” character who can never do wrong)…

Leave room for flaws in your protagonist like these examples:

  • Tony Stark is arrogant and a drunk
  • Harry Potter lacks self-confidence and doesn’t get the girl
  • Deadpool has cancer, is a jerk, and can’t seem to die
  • The Cast of Game of Thrones is all too mortal, and largely unprotected by plot armor

#6 – Avoid Making a Passive Character

A common mistake of first-time writers is to make characters reactive, otherwise known as passive.

And you know just how much passive voice is a no-no in writing, passive characters are also frowned upon.

While they might need to roll with the punches when they first splash into the deep end, you want them to drive the action soon after.

A great character is proactive. They take charge, make a plan, and attack a problem with their skills and supporting cast.

Often, you can use the above techniques to define their approach to proactivity.

Here are some questions to ask in order to learn how to avoid a passive character:

  • Do they face their problems with a joke?
  • Do they enlist the help of their cast of friends?
  • Do they solve it with their power?
  • Do they solve the problem by acknowledging that any effort matters because where they find themselves is not their fault?

Keep in mind what fuels your character and they will always have a way to move forward. Not only that, the reader will be rooting for your charter as well.

Great characters come from relatability and impact a reader by appealing to what we like to think about ourselves. A likable character engages a reader and can be a vector into a strange world.

Likable characters humanize conflict and give readers a reason to care.

Funny characters use their quips and whit to attack problems and keep the darkness at bay. We like to leave our fiction with a good feeling and jokes are how we cope with the worst of our issues.

Powerful characters embody proactive approaches. A reader likes to see a character succeed and likes to know what a character is capable of so they can be in on the action, not blindsided by troubles and des ex machina.

A reader likes to see real conflict. That is conflict that matters to a character and challenges the character. They don’t like to see pity and interpersonal wallowing.

Think of your character like a friend. Do your best to advocate for them but remember that they aren’t you. Keep writing and let your characters speak for themselves.

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how to make a living writing

Make a Living Writing Books: Building Multiple Income Streams for Authors

Making a living writing is 100% possible and more so now than it ever has been before…you just have to know how to get there.

If my doctor told me I had only six minutes to live, I wouldn’t brood.
I’d type a little faster.”

— Isaac Asimov

It is every writer’s dream: to make a living writing the kind of books you love to read.

But, can really earn an income if you self-publish a book? Is it realistic?

make a living writing

This is how to make a living writing:

  1. Is making a living writing possible?
  2. Learn why authors fail to make a living writing
  3. Build your author platform
  4. Scale assets and multiple income streams
  5. Use the “multiple book model”
  6. Expand your book formats
  7. Scale income streams
  8. Build an email list of raving fans
  9. Become a full-time author

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

You may have heard that most writers—Self-published and traditional—are starving artists who never make more than $1000 a year.

The stories are true. Many writers starve. But many sell a lot of books and do very well, if they stick with it and build multiple income streams.

I’ll just get this out of the way right now. Writing a book is hard work. Creating a sustainable platform with several income streams is harder. But, if this were easy, everybody would be doing it.

Making a living from your writing is definitely worth it and, as a writer who wants to earn cash online from their craft, it is one of the most rewarding achievements you will experience in the self-publishing business.

If you are an aspiring writer, or have already published and want to scale up your book business, find writing jobs, or even write for online publications, let’s dive into how to turn your words into income (Yes, it can be done!).

I don’t know what starving authors are doing but, in this post, I’ll show you how to earn a living writing books through creating multiple income streams.

You will see that it is definitely possible.

You can become the top 10% that make money from your books and write from Starbucks, the beach, or that cabin in the woods everyone keeps talking about.

Making a Living as a Writer is Possible

Before the Internet became a thing, the path of a writer was a long, and often frustrating profession, guaranteeing nothing even after years of committed writing.

You have heard the stories of famous authors rejected multiple times before getting published.

As an INDIE author, the days of sifting through rejection slips are over.

You write, you publish, and you build your own book business like Jenna Moreci did creating her full-time author and Youtube business where she now gets to spend her days doing what she loves.

Check out an interview we conducted with her about how she did it:

Or, you build a business from a book. Either way, your writing is the gateway to a better life that you create and have total control over.

If you are an author that wants to earn a living writing books, let’s dive into the nitty-gritty of how to make that work.

But first…

Why Authors Fail to Make a Living Writing

Do you know why most authors only earn a few thousand dollars a year or less from their writing?

Here are 4 reasons authors fail to make a living writing:

  1. They only write one book. You need momentum with your book platform to generate enough monthly sales to support your lifestyle. This is possible with building out a library of books and maximizing on the earning power for each. We will look at this more later.
  2. They don’t stay current with shifting publishing trends. The self-publishing industry is constantly changing. If you aren’t staying current with what is working (and what has stopped working) your book sales plummet and you don’t reach as wide an audience as you’d like.
  3. They stick with one platform as the only source for earning income. Many authors stay with Amazon only. This makes sense considering they have 85% of the market for ebooks. And Amazon’s exclusivity program, KDP Select, makes it easy to sign over all power to the online digital giant. However, if you keep your eggs in one basket, what happens when that basket falls out of the tree? In other words, Amazon decides to make a major change to their platform overnight and, within a week, your monthly royalties get cut in half. Yes, it happens as we see time and time again.
  4. They don’t invest in the quality of their product. Poorly designed book covers, sloppy editing, a boring book description…equals a product nobody wants. If you want to make a living writing books, invest in your book so that it sells.

Bottom line: Write and publish consistently, write high-quality books people want to buy, expand your reach by publishing across multiple platforms, and stay up-to-speed on the latest marketing strategies that are working.

This is the formula most successful self-published authors are using to make money with writing.

Build Your Author Platform to Make Money Writing

You, as an author and creator, needs to form the mindset that this is your business—your book business. Regardless if you are a part-time author looking to make some extra income, or your goal is to be a full-time author, when you start making money from your “hobby”, you are turning it into a business.

When it comes to creating income from writing, it boils down to one word: Platform.

Your author platform is the structure of your writing career. It should consist of multiple income streams. This begins with your platform.

According to Michael Hyatt, bestselling author of Platform and Free to Focus, a platform is, “The means by which you connect with your existing and potential fans. It might include your company website, a blog, your Twitter and Facebook accounts, an online video show, or a podcast. It may also include your personal appearances as a public speaker, musician, or entertainer.”

As a writer, even if you are writing a book for the first time, think about what your platform means to you. This will become the structural foundation that your writing author business is built on.

If you want to make a living writing fiction or nonfiction, the approach to how you structure your income streams are similar, although the content is different.

What drives your platform, however, is the one thing that many overlook: Your author mindset. From now on, approach your craft with the mindset that this is your business.

Like every business, you have to be focused on the customer experience and products available to those customers. Delivering the right product, in this case the book they are looking for, is how to convert the curious customer into a paying one.

Components of an Author Platform

Your author platform is made up of:

A Catalogue of Books: This consists of published books, and all variations of the book including paperback, hardcover, large print and audiobooks. Your books, aside from bringing in consistent revenue, act as funnels for building your subscribers list and promoting your other products. Your books could be stand-alone reads, as many nonfiction titles are, or a series of thrillers.

Email list: This is your list of raving fans that have given you permission to contact them by providing you with their email address. Your email list is at the heart of making a living, not just as an author but, anyone who is building an online platform.

Wide Distribution Model: As a self-published author, Amazon may be where you make 80% of your income. But if you have more than three books available, you want to consider opting out of Amazon’s KDP Select program and publishing wide with other platforms such as aggregators Draft2Digital, PublishDrive and Kobo. Set your print books up for sale through IngramSpark. You can tap into a huge international market that, not only will drive your book sales but, open up opportunity for international foreign rights.

Courses: As an author you could develop courses based on the content of your books. For example, take a look at what Lise Cartright has built through her platform Hustle & Groove. Picture a multitude of courses available for when browsers or subscribers come to your site for the first time. Building online courses is a great way to expand this platform.

Website: A critical piece of your writing business is your author website. This where you stage all of your talent. You might have an author blog that brings in leads for your books and courses.

You could create content that you don’t publish on Amazon and make it exclusive to your website only. You can cross promote with other authors and set up an autoresponder email funnel to build a deeper relationship with your readers.

Your author website should include these basic features:

  • A free offer: This is free content a new subscriber downloads after opting in.
  • Featured blog posts: Your blog is an asset and potential income stream as it brings in leads through visitor traffic.
  • Course platform: Highly recommended. These are great assets to build out and easy to scale up.
  • About page: Make a dynamic introduction here.

Scalable Assets and Multiple Income Streams

Let’s get to my favorite topic: Creating multiple income streams to grow your business!

This is what I love about self-publishing. You are at the helm of your own ship and you, and only you, get to choose the direction to take.

We know that, if we write and publish lots of books, potentially our library of books grows and this generates strong passive income.

But relying on book sales only is a lot of work, and it is more work if you are selling on just one platform, Amazon.

Check out how our very own coach Lise Cartwright has built her passive income stream with books (and how she can teach you to do the same when you become a student):

As an authorpreneur, a self-publisher who writes and publishes their own books, you want to always be thinking creatively how to expand your income streams.

Let’s take a look at the list below for book assets.

  1. Book series
  2. Boxsets
  3. Audiobooks
  4. Paperbacks
  5. Hardcover books
  6. Large print books

Making a Living Writing with the “Multiple Book Model”

Let’s be honest. Making money from one book can be very difficult. Most authors who earn a living as a successful writer have several, if not many, books in the pipeline.

These authors not only publish consistently but, are focused on delivering a series of books to build a valuable fan base.

The people buying your book series, once they are hooked into your series, crave more. This makes it a no-brainer for scaling up your author platform with every new book launch.

The more books you publish, the more income you can potentially earn and add more subscribers to your list.

For example, check out this popular book series:

We know that publishing consistently brings in more money and builds your platform over the long-term. But why does this model work?

how to make money writing

Your readers love new material, and so does Amazon. When your platform is active with new book releases, sales and reviews coming in consistently, the algorithm is “switched on” to help you sell more by pushing your books into the higher-traffic channels.

As your platform continues to scale up, your platform grows.

It might be slow at first, and you feel like you’re doing a lot of writing without any gains, but…that is the way it is when you begin to build.

Most fiction authors start to see a return on investment after the 4th or 5th book in a series. For nonfiction, this could happen sooner but, I certainly experienced a big shift after launching my 5th book Relaunch Your Life.


Another reason multiple books work is, new readers discovering you are almost always going to buy your other books if they like what they read. If that same reader likes your books, maybe he or she wants the course you are offering as well at 20% off.

Expanding Book Formats to Make More Money from Your Books

Don’t just settle for publishing in a single format.

We’re covering the several different types of book formats you can publish in that will increase your income from writing over time.

#1 – Boxsets

A boxset is a series of books bundled together allowing readers to purchase the series at a reduced cost per book. This is a great product to create as soon as you have 3 or more books in a series.

Check out these boxsets by popular authors:

#2 – Audiobooks

The popularity of audiobooks is on the rise. With less people reading and tuning into digital products while on the run, audiobooks is an income stream you can’t afford to leave on the table.

You can record the audiobook yourself or hire a professional. Once recorded, upload to ACX, Audible and expand into other channels for wide distribution through Find Away Voices.

#3 – Paperbacks

We live in the digital age but, paperbacks are still massively popular. In fact, 30% of my author revenue still comes through paperback sales.

With the power of Print-on-Demand, readers can buy our books through Amazon or IngramSpark, and these sites do all the heavy lifting. No inventory.

#4 – Hardcover Books

You can use IngramSparks’ powerful distribution network to create stunning hardcover versions of your book. Why not? It’s another income stream that, once set up, sells itself. You have to pay a fee of $49.00 per title and you’ll need an ISBN for each version of the book.

#5 – Large Print Books

Did you know you can offer readers another version of your book in large print form? This isn’t a huge market but, depending on the age range of your readers, a great option for children’s books or readers with impaired vision.

Ideally, you are not just selling a book. You are converting a browser into a lifelong customer. That is the real power of building a brand and an author platform.

Right now, take a few minutes to map out a rough plan for your book platform. How many books will you write this year? Is this a series of books or stand-alones? How far apart will you publish your books? Could you compliment your book by introducing a course to go with it?

Creating Scalable Income Streams

Successful 6-figure authorpreneur Joanna Penn accounts for her success to multiple income streams she calls “scalable assets” that bring in thousands of dollars every month.

Check out how she does it in the video below:

In essence, a scalable asset can be anything you create once and continue to sell over and over again.

For example, you put in over a hundred hours to write a book. Now, if you were being paid $30 an hour to write, that would be $3000 to you after the work is done. But let’s say your book sells at $4.99 as an ebook, and $12.99 for the paperback.

You consistently sell 30 eBooks a day at a 70% royalty rate, because your book is priced between $2.99 and $9.99. The paperback priced at $12.99 earns a fixed 60% royalty rate through KDP. That is roughly 182.00 per day for ebook and paperback sales.

Now, this continues for 30 days and that is: 185.00×30=$5,550. Now, I calculated this just for one book if it does really well. Imagine where you could be with five, ten or twenty books each generating their own passive income streams?

How about if you had audiobooks as well? What about foreign rights sales? A course that goes with the book?

Get the idea now.

Yes, the dream is very real. It is right in front of you, if you want it!

How can you scale up your author business right now?

How many assets can you create over the next six months?

Build an email list of raving fans

If you haven’t started building an email list yet, you need one. Without a fan base to market your books to in the initial book launch phase, you are left to the mercy of the Amazon algorithm. Your list is the horde of fans waiting for your book release.

When you get ready to launch your next bestseller, these are the people who will help you to make it a smashing success.

A successful book launch is critical. When you Sell More Books, this is a trigger to Amazon that your book is popular and in demand. Amazon steps in to push your book into the also-bought section, the area that recommends popular items to customers when browsing.

How do you create an email list?

You can start with offering a free gift inside your book.

This is a lead magnet that could be a:

  • Checklist
  • Action Guide
  • Audiobook
  • Free Report
  • Video Series

Your readers give you their email by signing up (what Seth Godin calls “Permission marketing) and they get added to your newsletter list. This is one of the most effective ways to sell books and continue to add to your subscribers list.

Your list is happy because they get to join you on the journey as you keep them in the loop on every writing project. Then, when close to launching, you can invite them to your launch team and offer the book for free to a segment of your list.

This helps to secure book reviews during launch week. In turn, your book sales flow in and your book has a stronger chance of sticking in the marketplace after the initial 30-days is over.

Remember: From the day your book is published, Amazon puts all books in “new releases” category. It is critical you maximize paid downloads and reviews during this 30-day period for the long-term success of the book.

Ready to Become a Full-Time Author?

Okay, you don’t have to be full time to still make money selling your books. But to make money at this, there are three things you should do consistently.

Here is a list of three action items that you, as a real author, can take to scale up your platform, sell more books, and earn good money while you sleep.

#1 – Form a writing habit

I write every morning from 5:30—7:00. This is a consistent schedule I have kept for the past 3 years and during this time I wrote and launched 12+ books.

Developing a writing habit is crucial if you want to make a living writing.

If you still have a day job (and most people do) you’ll need to find the time of day works best for you, establish your most productive writing time and make this a habit of creating content during this peak time.

Once you’ve established your best time for writing, write consistently for five days a week.

#2 – Publish consistently

If you follow the steps above and write with consistency, you can publish frequently, too.

Imagine where your (fiction or nonfiction) platform would be if you put out a book every 3-4 months. This is how you create scalable income.

Do the work now and reap the rewards later.

#3 – Communicate with your fanbase

We looked at the importance of an email list and why you need one. When you are getting ready to launch, you want to be able to shout it out to someone who is listening.

Your team of dedicated email subscribers are ready to help you launch bestseller after bestseller. But, communicating with your list is critical in between book launches.

At the very least, send out an email once every two weeks, and if you can, once a week. Provide tips, strategies, or an update on what you are working on.

Keep your tribe in the loop!

#4 – Determine Your Level of Success

You have to work out the details of what your success means to you.

How many income streams can you build, and what are they? Will you focus on the wide distribution model, or stay exclusive with Amazon?

This is different for every writer and depends on what you are comfortable with in terms of time and financial investment.

Stay focused on the big picture and scale up gradually. With every new book, you are generating potential to earn more and gain wider recognition as an author.

If you write one book and focus all your efforts on this, think of other income streams to tie in with your book and the kind of fan base you want to build. Will you offer coaching? Courses? Outsource your tech skills to help other authors?

You are an author, and now is the best time to make a living as a writer.

Take the First Step Toward Making a Living Writing

Chandler Bolt created a training focusing on exactly the steps above. In fact, he’s built this very 8-figure business on the back of his 6 bestselling books.

If anyone knows how to make a living (and then some) writing, it’s Chandler.

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passive voice in writing

Passive Voice: What Is Passive Voice & How to Improve It with Examples

Passive voice has its purposes. It really does. In fact, it can be the politically correct way to phrase something.

Imagine…

The setting: a public school library

The players: a librarian (OK, I’m the librarian) and 15 first graders

The scene: The librarian is reading aloud nonfiction books about sharks.

The question: “Why do sharks _______________?” (some intriguing behavior too complex or gory for me to explain or possibly even understand)

The passive voice answer that keeps me employed in a public school: “That’s the way they were made.”

The active voice answer that I would tell my grandchildren: “God made them that way.”

Here’s what you’ll learn about passive voice:

  1. What is passive voice?
  2. How much passive voice can you use?
  3. How to choose to use passive or active voice
  4. Active voice examples
  5. How to vary your sentence variety
  6. How to find your percent of passive voice

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What is passive voice?

Passive voice is when you write a sentence in which the subject receives an action. For example, “The ant was helped by the human.” is passive voice because the subject (ant) receives an action (help). The active voice of this sentence is, “The human helped the ant.”

Typically, passive voice is seen as weak when writing a book and in most cases, this is true. However, passive voice can serve its own purpose in writing.

One instance to use passive voice intentionally is when you don’t know (or care) WHO created the action.

It was so long ago, so obscure, so common, or so…something that the point is not on the subject performing an action; the focus is on the result.

Most of the time, though, active voice is the way to go. It’s more direct (less wordy) and commands more interest. You use strong verbs in active voice, so the entire sentence is (usually) stronger.

Active voice sentences are easier to understand.

How much passive voice can you use?

The English language has melded far too many linguistic influences to have any absolute rules.

Therefore, the frequency of using passive voice versus active voice is a judgment call on how you would like to balance out your active and passive sentences, particularly when you can actually use passive voice intentionally as a literary device.

The key is to understand the difference between the two.

How to Choose Between Using Passive Voice or Active Voice

In general, active voice is preferred. Below is an explanation that I used with English students.

Active voice shows direct ACTION; passive voice is more ho-hum and wordy with unnecessary prepositional phrases.

The passive verb usually needs helping verbs.  Sometimes it even sounds stilted.

Active voice has movers and shakers; passive voice is like being a couch potato. Do you want to be the one DOING the action or be passive? Be an active leader, not a follower! Start with the main subject and go from there.

Passive Voice Examples:


ACTIVE:  I love reading.

PASSIVE:  Reading is loved by me.

ACTIVE:  AC/DC Thunder won the game easily.

PASSIVE:  The game was won easily by AC/DC Thunder.


With students, the focus is on active voice; with a professional writer like yourself, you will most likely have a blend of both active and passive sentences, but active should still far outweigh passive.

Active VS Passive Voice with Examples

From Billboard’s “The Biggest Hits of All: The Hot 100’s All-Time Top 100 Songs” I selected songs that used active voice in their titles. (WHO selected them? I selected them. That’s another easy example of active voice.)

Here are song titles along with a rewrite in passive voice:

  • “I Love Rock ‘N Roll” * Rock ‘N Roll Is Loved by Me
  • “I Gotta Feeling” * A Feeling Was Gotten by Me
  • “You Light Up My Life” * My Life Was Lit Up by You”
  • “We Found Love” * Love Was Found by Us
  • “I Want to Hold Your Hand” * Your Hand Is What I Want to Hold
  • “Another One Bites the Dust” * The Dust Was Bitten by Another One
  • “I Will Always Love You” * You Will Always Be Loved by Me
  • “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” * It Was Heard Through the Grapevine by Me

Sentences with the understood subject (you) have an imperative active voice which is much more authoritative than passive tense:

  • (You)” Un-Break My Heart” * My Heart Should Be Unbroken by You
  • (You) “Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Ole Oak Tree” * A Yellow Ribbon Should Be Tied Round the Ole Oak Tree by You
  • (You) “Let the Sunshine In” * The Sunshine Should Be Let In by You
  • (You) “Play That Funky Music” * That Funky Music Should Be Played by You

Conversely, this next song title has a passive voice that works: “That’s What Friends Are For” (better than Friends Are for That).

With the rewrites changing active voice to passive, did you discern a pattern where many of them ended with a prepositional phrase containing the person doing the action?

Think of gossip.

People want to know who is doing what! (They really did that? You’re kidding!) Put the subject right at the beginning so everyone knows whom you’re talking (writing) about and what they did!

How to Vary Your Sentence Variety Using Passive Voice and Active Voice

If you have the same subject over and over and if the object is more of the point anyway, passive voice allows for sentence variety.

Furthermore, if it doesn’t matter who did the action because the result is the point, passive voice works.

what is passive voice

The chairs in the old high school library were refinished and moved to the new library weeks before the tables were moved. Temporary chairs were in the high school library.

I needed the tables from the old elementary library to sort the genre boxes, so students had chairs, but no tables for a while. The elementary students enjoyed sitting at the “invisible” tables and joked how they didn’t have to push in their chairs when they left.

After class, a first grader told his teacher very sincerely, “The tables really are invisible!”

I smile whenever I think of his endearing comment.


Passive voice rationale: It didn’t matter who had refinished and moved the chairs or who had put temporary chairs in the high school library. I hadn’t done those things, and those details would not have added to the book.

Nonetheless, I had completed the genrefication project (where the library was totally reorganized by book genres). I didn’t want to start almost every sentence with “I + action verb + direct object.” It would sound awkward to repeatedly start sentences with “I did this, I did that, I, I, I….”

Passive Voice Checker & How to Determine Your Percent of Passive Voice

Beyond the basic spelling and grammar check (which can be helpful with tools like Grammarly or even Hemingway Editor) is Word’s readability feature.

It tells you various details about your writing, including the percentage of passive sentences, the Flesch Reading Ease, and the Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level.

For example, the segment about the chairs and the invisible tables scored an 8.8 Flesh-Kincaid Grade Level, which means it was written at a reading level where an 8th grader in the 8th month of school should be able to comprehend the text.

Many teen and adult fiction books are written at 4th – 6th-grade reading levels (based on Accelerated Reader scoring) because the writing flows at those levels for recreational reading compared to reading to learn new information. Newspapers may rank more at a 10th-grade reading level, depending on the complexity of the information.

If you are using Word and would like to know your percentage of passive sentences and readability scores, here’s what you do:

  1. Go to Review at the top of Word.
  2. Select Spelling & Grammar from the top left.
  3. Select Options… from the pop-up.
  4. Select Settings… at the bottom of the next pop up (next to Writing style:)
  5. Then scroll down until you see Passive Voice and check the box
  6. Select “OK” and you’ll now be able to check your passive voice in Word
passive voice checker

In case you were wondering (and even if you weren’t), this article was written at a 6.7 reading level with 6% sentences being passive.

Now check some of your writing and see if you agree with your results.

By the way, I just took my own advice here and checked my children’s picture book, The Flower Fairies Meet the Talking Rainbow Rocks. It contains 4% passive sentences (acceptable to me) but has a 4.1 reading level, which is higher than I would have guessed and higher than I had planned for a picture book.

My book’s science-related terms increased the reading level. Word’s readability tool actively helps with various writing considerations beyond passive voice. You may use it purely for passive voice, but it will tell you even more.

Active writing is lively writing. It is aggressive in the most positive sense. It burrows in there and zooms straight to the point.

Stay active with your writing, and stay active in your writing.

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how to write dialogue

How to Write Dialogue: Master List of Dialogue Punctuation & Tips

Learning how to write dialogue can be tough for some without the right guidance.

But unless you plan on writing a textbook, you must learn how to properly write dialogue—and use it correctly because yes, there is a wrong way to write dialogue (and we’ll get into that later).

Without effective dialogue, even the best plot or book ideas will fall flat.

But if you’re not sure how to write dialogue in a way that is not only natural, but also works as a catalyst within your book, the process of writing a book can be even more daunting than it already is.

writing dialogue example

You can’t write a book without dialogue – and you can’t write a good book without good dialogue.

In this post, we’ll cover everything you need to know about how to write dialogue, including dialogue format, dialogue punctuation, examples of dialogue with grammar, and common dialogue mistakes to avoid.

We’ll also cover, in detail, how to write realistic dialogue.

Here are 10 tips for how to write dialogue:

  1. Say the dialogue out loud
  2. Cut small talk when writing dialogue
  3. Keep your dialogue brief and impactful
  4. Give each character a unique voice
  5. Add world-appropriate slang
  6. Be consistent with the characters’ voices
  7. Remember who they’re speaking to
  8. Avoid long dialogue paragraphs
  9. Cut out greetings
  10. Show who your character is

Ready to learn what makes great dialogue? Let’s get started.

NOTE: We cover everything in this blog post and much more about the writing, marketing, and publishing process in our VIP Fiction Self-Publishing Program.
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Dialogue Rules All Writers Should Follow

Before we get into the actual formatting and styles of writing dialogue (along with some tips for making sure it’s good dialogue), let’s go over some of the common and universal rules for writing dialogue.

Here are the main rules for writing dialogue:

  1. Each speaker gets a new paragraph. Every time someone speaks, you show this by creating a new paragraph. Yes, even if your characters are only saying one word, they get new paragraphs.
  2. Each paragraph is indented. The only exception for this is if it’s the start of a chapter or after a scene break, where the first line is never indented, including with dialogue.
  3. Punctuation for what’s said goes inside the quotation marks. Any time the punctuation is a part of the person speaking, they go inside the quotes so the reader knows how the dialogue is said.
  4. Long speeches with several paragraphs don’t have end quotations. You’ll see more on this below, but overall, if one character is speaking for so long they have separate paragraphs, the quotation marks on the end are removed, but you start the next paragraph with them.
  5. Use single quotes if the person speaking is quoting someone. If you have a character who says, “Man, don’t you love it when girls say, ‘I’m fine’?”, the single quotes indicate what someone else says.

Proper Dialogue Punctuation and Format

When it comes to book formatting, dialogue is one of the most difficult to get right.

It’s not that it’s especially complicated, but there are many different types of dialogue and many different types of punctuation (including when to use a comma, quotes, and even em dashes) needed in order to properly format it.

Therefore, it’s easy to get confused or forget which format you should use for which line of dialogue.

The basics for the format of dialogue is that each time a new person speaks, it’s a new paragraph, like in this example from The Savior’s Champion by Jenna Moreci.

how to write dialogue

In order to fully understand how to format dialogue, you have to know how to punctuate it properly, depending on the form you’re using.

Writing Dialogue Examples

The one thing most writers get wrong when they’re first starting out is proper dialogue format.

Sure, you could leave that up to the editor, but the more work for your editor, the more expensive they’ll be.

Plus, it’s important that, as serious writers and future authors, you know how to punctuate dialogue no matter what.

That also means editors will be able to focus on more complex edits instead of just punctuation.

Dialogue punctuation is complex and takes some time to learn, understand, and master.

Here are some dialogue examples of each and how you would punctuate them.

Writing Dialogue Example 1 – Single Line

Single lines of dialogue are among the easiest to write and remember. The punctuation for this dialogue is simple:

The quotations go on the outside of both the words and end-of-dialogue punctuation (in this case a period, but it’s the same for a comma, question mark, or exclamation point).

Like this:

“You really shouldn’t have done that.”

Here’s an example of what this looks like:

how to write dialogue

No matter what other punctuation you have, whether it’s a question mark or exclamation point, it will go on the inside of the quotations.

Writing Dialogue Example 2 – Single line with tag

In this case, “tag” means dialogue tag.

A dialogue tag is anything that indicates who said what and in what way.

Here are some common examples of dialogue tags:

  • He said
  • She whispered
  • They bellowed
  • He hollered
  • They sniped
  • She huffed
  • He cooed
  • They responded

In the example below, you can see that the dialogue tag goes on the outside of the quotations, while the comma goes on the inside.

how to write dialogue with tags

This is the case with any dialogue tags that are used. You can also see how this dialogue formatting works with different types of sentences and different dialogue tags.

Note that the tag, when following a comma within the quotation marks, is lowercase, as it’s a part of the overall sentence.

Writing Dialogue Example 3 – Questions

Because a question mark seems like the end of a sentence, it’s easy for most writers to get the format for questions when writing dialogue wrong.

But it’s actually pretty easy. Essentially, a question mark will be treated like a comma or period. What changes the formatting most is what follows the dialogue.

Here are some examples of writing questions in dialogue:

  • “Will you ever stop being a child?” she asked.
  • “What about that man over there?” he whispered, pointing in a old gentleman’s direction. “Doesn’t he look odd too?”
  • “What’s the big deal, anyway?” she huffed.

Below is a clear breakdown of formatting questions in dialogue.

how to write dialogue question

In this example above, you can see that if there is a dialogue tag, the question mark will act as a comma and you will then lowercase the first word in the dialogue tag (unless it’s a person’s name).

However, if there is simply an action after the question, the question mark acts as a period and you will then capitalize the first word in the next sentence.

Writing Dialogue Example 4 – Tag, then single line

When it comes to formatting dialogue tags before your character speaks, it’s essentially the same as when they come after, except backward.

how to write dialogue

As you can see in the example above, the dialogue tag is in front, followed by a comma outside of the quotations. Then the quotations appear when the sentence starts with that sentence’s punctuation inside the quotations at the end.

Here are a few more examples of this type of dialogue, as it’s very common:

  • They hung their head and mumbled, “It’s fine if you don’t want me to come.”
  • She huffed, “Well that’s just great, isn’t it?”
  • He drew in a long breath and spoke, “I’m just not sure what to do anymore.”

Writing Dialogue Example 5 – Body language within line

There are a couple different types of body language dialogue formats to learn.

Dialogue Variation 1: This is when the actions your character is taking comes between lines of dialogue but after a sentence is complete. In real life, this would indicate someone pausing to complete the action.

Here’s what this dialogue example looks like:

  • “Are you sure we should go this weekend?” She shoved the curtain aside, sneering at the greying clouds. “It could be a mess out there.”
  • “What’s the big deal, anyway?” He yanked the sheet from the envelope. “It’s not like you cared for her all that much.”
  • “Let’s go to the moon!” She twirled, her pale pink dress lifting around her. “We could make it, I know we could.”

Below is a detailed explanation of how you would format this type of dialogue:

writing dialogue with body language

Variation 2: With this dialogue formatting, it’s different because this is when a character does something while they are speaking, instead of pausing like in variation 1. The action happens in the middle of a sentence and has to be formatted as such.

Here are some dialogue examples of this formatting:

  • “It’s really just”—he rubbed his hand over his stubble—”the most frustrating thing I can think of.”
  • “If you’re not going to”—she grabbed his face—”at least listen to me, I don’t see the point in even trying.”

You can see the proper formatting for this dialogue below:

writing dialogue with body language

You would use this to help build a clearer image and communicate the scene to match how it is in your head.

This is also the case when characters have inner thoughts within their dialogue, as seen in the second example in variation 2.

Writing Dialogue Example 6 – Single line getting cut off

Something that happens in real life (sometimes an irritatingly large amount) is getting cut off or interrupted when you’re speaking.

This typically happens when someone either doesn’t care what you’re talking about or when two people are in an argument and end up speaking over one another.

how to write dialogue cut off

You can see in this example that you place an Em Dash (—) right at the end of the sentence, followed by the quotation marks.

You’ll treat this format of dialogue much like a example 1, a single line of dialogue.

Writing Dialogue Example 7 – Dialogue tag in the middle of a line

Another common type of dialogue. This is essentially a mix of a single line with a dialogue tag.

writing dialogue tags

Mostly, you will use this type in order to indicate who is talking if there are more than two and in order to keep the focus on the dialogue itself and not the character’s actions.

Writing Dialogue Example 8 – Paragraphs of dialogue

There are certain situations that call for a single character to speak for a long time. However, grammatically, not all of what they say will belong in the same paragraph.

Here’s how you would write multiple paragraphs of dialogue:

how to write dialogue paragraphs

For writing dialogue paragraphs, you want to leave the quotations off the end of the paragraph and begin the next paragraph with them in order to indicate that the same person is just telling a long story.

[NOTE: These dialogue rules apply for American English. Other parts of the world may use different dialogue formatting, including single quotations and more.]

How to Write Dialogue That’s Realistic and Effective

Great dialogue is hard to get right. For something we do and hear every day, knowing what to make your characters say in order to move the plot forward and increase intrigue isn’t easy.

But that’s why we’ve broken it down in easy steps for writing dialogue for you.

Here are some of the best tips for writing dialogue that feels real but is also effective for moving your story forward.

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#1 – Say it outloud first

One of the easiest and best ways to see if your dialogue sounds realistic is to read it outloud.

Hearing what someone is supposed to say (since your readers will imagine them speaking out loud) will allow you to determine if it sounds real or fake.

One thing to keep in mind is that sometimes your dialogue will sound a little “cheesy” to you. Since written dialogue is a little different and more purposeful than what we hear in our day-to-day lives, you might think it sounds a little dramatic.

But that’s okay! Dialogue should have more “weight” than what you say in real life.

Even so, it has to sound like something someone would actually say. If you feel yourself cringing a little or you can’t image a real person say it, you might have to do some editing.

Ask these questions when reading your dialogue out lout to yourself:

  1. Would someone actually say this in real life?
  2. Does it move the plot forward or develop a character?
  3. Is it easy to say or do you fumble over the sentence?
  4. Do you pause in certain areas where you haven’t written commas? (Note: if this happens, put in some commas so the readers interpret it how you hear it!)

Extra dialogue tip: Record yourself reading your dialogue in what you imagine your characters to sound like and play it back to yourself. This can help you pinpoint which words or phrases sound off.

#2 – Get rid of the small talk

Your readers don’t care about what your characters had for dinner last night—unless that dinner had been poisoned and is now seeping into their bloodstream, impacting their immediate danger.

Talking about the weather or your character’s pet or anything trivial will read as boring and unnecessary.

This also slows down your novel’s pacing.

One exception may be if your characters are stalling in order to avoid talking about something that is major and impactful to the plot. When it’s used as a device to set the mood or tone of a scene, it’s acceptable.

#3 – Keep it brief and impactful

Dialogue in books is not meant to read in the way we actually speak—not full conversations, at least. If it did, each book would be exceptionally longer, due in part to the fact that humans often say a lot of pointless things.

When it comes to writing dialogue in your book, you have to keep it briefer and more poignant than in real life.

A great way to get to the meat of the dialogue is to cut out everything that doesn’t immediately impact the scene.

A quick, “Hey, how’s is going?” isn’t necessary unless the other character’s state is vital to the scene. This, however, doesn’t include if your character is meeting someone for the first time, obviously.

Essentially, anything that does not further develop your character, the plot, or any subplots should be cut.

#4 – Give each character a unique way of speaking

I’m sure you’ve noticed by now, but not everyone speaks in the same way. We all have a specific “flow” to our sentences and we all have favorite words we prefer to use.

This is actually a big part of character development in your novel.

For example, maybe people will use “perhaps” or “maybe” but not often both in equal amounts. This is a very small detail, but it does a long way in developing the characters and giving them their own voice.

Another way you can do this is with sentence structure.

Does your character speak in short, chopped sentences? Or do they eloquently describe their point of view in long-winded, crafted sentences that ebb and flow with their tone of voice?

This difference is very important. Your readers should be able to tell the difference between characters based on their sentences.

A reasonable exception to this would be pairs or groups of close people. Meaning, if your main character’s best friend speaks similarly to them, that’s okay. As humans, we subconsciously pick up on the speech patterns of those closest to us – those we speak to regularly.

#5 – Add world-appropriate slang

A major part of dialogue that often gets overlooked is the slang.

Even in our own world, new slang is developed every day and sometimes, the words might seem crazy or even confusing.

Take the term “fleek” for example. This word looks like it would be a herd of some sort animal.

But in fact, it’s a word being “on point” or “sharp.”

The point is, creating unique slang for your world can add to the dialogue and tell you more about the characters who use it, not to mention build your world effortlessly.

Here’s an example of slang from Jenna Moreci’s, EVE: The Awakening. This book is set in the near future and so Moreci had to create slang fitting for the time:

dialogue example

#6 – Be consistent with characters’ voices

It wouldn’t make sense for your character to flop the way they speak unless they’re talking to someone specific (which we cover in the next tip).

The main idea is that if one character speaks in choppy sentences, it should remain that way unless the moment changes to something that would require something more elegant.

At the same time, you want to make sure your characters are using consistent language.

Like in the tips in #4, if they use a specific word more frequently, make sure they use that word whenever they should in order to maintain a consistent voice.

#7 – Think about who they’re speaking to

You don’t speak in the same way around every single person.

Your voice and style changes depending on who you’re chatting with. For example, you’re going to talk differently to your mom than you would your best friend.

While it’s important to be consistent with your character’s style and voice, it’s also crucial to think about the who when it comes to their dialogue and adjust accordingly.

#8 – Keep long speech paragraphs to a minimum

Rarely do people speak for a very long time uninterrupted. It might be important for your character to say something lengthy, but remember to at least split it up with body language and other means of giving your reader a break.

These can feel very long-winded and end up slowing down the pacing of your book, which can be great if you use them for this purpose.

One way to break up long paragraphs if one person is speaking for a while (like when they’re telling a story of sorts) is to add in the other characters’ body language reactions.

But if you’re trying to move your plot along at a steady rate, avoid long speech paragraphs.

#9 – Cut the hellos and goodbyes

Greetings are absolutely necessary in real life. In your book? Not so much.

Your readers know enough to assume there was a greeting of some sort. In addition, these aren’t usually pivotal parts of your book and therefore, aren’t necessary to have.

An exchange like this will bore your readers to death:

“Hey, Charlie!”

“What’s up, dude?”

“Not much, how are you doing?”

“I’m fine, you know. Same old, same old.”

“Ah, I feel ya. Anything new in your world?”

“Not really, to tell you the truth.”

Cutting these will help speed up your pacing as well as keep the dialogue to the must-speak information.

#10 – Show who your character is

One of the best methods of character development is dialogue.

Think about it: how do we learn about new people when we meet them? Through what they say.

You could meet someone entirely new and based on the exchange, you actually learn a lot about who they are and how the operate in life.

You discover if they’re shy, bold, blunt, or kind-hearted and soft spoken.

Your dialogue should do the very same for your characters.

Here’s an example of what this would look like:

She let stray strands fall in front of her face as she looked down and scuffed something sticky on the sidewalk.Do you really think so?” Her voice was soft, her eyes still fixed on the ground instead of the new guy standing in front of her.

This example shows you what the character looks like in a specific situation and therefore, we gather facts about what she’s like.

For one, she’s shy—as much is seen by her avoiding eye contact even as she speaks.

Common Dialogue Mistakes to Avoid

We all make mistakes. But if you want to become a published author (or just write a great book), you can’t make these major ones within your book’s dialogue.

#1 – Using the person’s name repeatedly

It’s tempting to make your characters call each other’s names often. However, this isn’t how we talk in real life.

Unless we’re tryign to get their attention or are emphasizing (or warning!) a point, we don’t say their name.

How not to write dialogue:

  “Rebecca, I really needed you and you weren’t there.”

  “I’m sorry, Ashley. I was just busy with school and work.”

  “Okay, but that’s not a good excuse Rebecca.”

  “Okay, but that’s not a good excuse Rebecca.”

  “You’re right, Ashley. It’s not.”


#2 – Info-dumping through dialogue

It’s perfectly okay to have some characters explain certain elements your readers won’t understand. However, it gets very boring and unrealistic when that’s all they do.

Your world should unfold gradually to the reader through showing and not telling.

In the case of dialogue, this worldbuilding is all tell and no show. And this works sometimes, especially if a character is telling another character about something they don’t yet know.

Just keep this to a minimum and use other methods of worldbuilding to show your readers the world you’ve created.

#3 – Avoid repetitive dialogue tags

There’s nothing quite as annoying as reading dialogue tags over and over…and over again.

It’s a surefire way to bore your readers and make them want to set the book down with no plans to pick it back up in the immediate future.

How not to write dialogue with tags:

  “I really needed you and you weren’t there,” Ashley said.

  “I’m sorry. I was just busy with school and work,” Rebecca replied.

  “Okay, but that’s not a good excuse,” she huffed.

“You’re right. It’s not,” Rebecca whispered.

#4 – Avoid repetitive dialogue styles

This means that if you have the same dialogue format for a few lines, you need to change it up because otherwise, it will be very boring to your readers.

You can see in the point above, using only dialogue tags at the end is very boring. The same applies for repeated other types as well.

For example, read through each of these and you can get a feel for the monotony you want to avoid within the repeated formats.

Bad Dialogue Example 1:  Dialogue tags in the front

  He spoke. “You’re one of the oddest people I know.”

  She replied, “Is that necessarily a bad thing?”

   He smiled. “I didn’t say it was a bad thing at all.”

  She laughed. “Good.

Bad Dialogue Example 2: Action within dialogue

   “I’m just not sure”—she grabbed a handful of seeds— “that you’re taking this seriously.”

   “What?” He weaved between the overgrown plants, pushing them aside. “Why would you think that?”

   “Because you—” she plunged her finger into the pot with soil— “just ignore the important stuff unless it’s important to you only.”

    “That’s ridiculous.” He craned his neck around a calla lily. “That’s not true.”

Bad Dialogue Example 3: Tags in the middle

  “I really wish you would just talk to me,” Ada said. “This silent treatment isn’t helping anyone.”

  “It’s helping me,” he said. “Or does that not matter to you?”

  “Of course it matters to me,” she replied. “It’s just not solving the problem.”

  “I don’t think anything can solve this problem,” he murmured. “It’s permanent.”

How to fix this: whenever you’re writing dialogue, switch the type of formatting you use in order to make it look and sound better. The more enjoyable it is to read, the more readers will become invested.

One exception is when you have two characters going back and forth very quickly. In this case, a few lines of dialogue only, with no tags or anything, is acceptable.

Fixing Dialogue Example: Variation is Key

  “I’m just not sure”—she grabbed a handful of seeds— “that you’re taking this seriously.”

   He weaved between the overgrown plants, pushing them aside.“Why would you think that?”

   “Because…you just ignore the important stuff unless it’s important to you only.”

 “That’s ridiculous.”

   “No.” She plunged her finger into the pot with soil, dropping in a few seeds. “It’s true.”

What’s Next?

We have something for you—for FREE.

“More than what you’ve already given me in this blog post?” you ask.

YES! Continuing to learn is what makes the difference between okay writers and real, great authors-to-be.

After all, Ernest Hemingways says it best: “We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master.”

But you can at least, become better – with this free training.


Join Chandler Bolt at his FREE Webinar Training as he reveals the exact tactics and strategies he used to write and publish 6 bestselling books in a row – and how he used them to build a 7-figure business in less than 2 years!

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Much like with anything that has rules, there are always exceptions.

The most important part of these rules is knowing them.

Once you know the rules and why they’re there, you can break with with purpose – instead of doing so on accident.

Do you have killer dialogue? What tips do you have for those looking to improve & what’s your favorite book that has great dialogue?

show don't tell

Show, Don’t Tell: How to Show Not Tell in Writing With Exercises

When you start writing a book, it’s as if everyone around you becomes the expert. They tell you to show don’t tell, start with action, or even embellish your stories to sound “better.”

But how do you know what advice to take…and what do those writing tips even mean in the first place?

We’re here to help you understand showing versus telling and how that will actually help you write better and stronger.

how to show don't tell

It’s safe to say that the idea of showing not telling is one all writers should pay close attention to.

Show don’t tell in writing is a piece of advice that’s been around for longer than you might realize. Even if it didn’t have a phrase attached to it yet, the best authors out there have been using it for the duration of their careers (and even before, most likely).

Here’s how to show don’t tell in writing:

  1. Understand what show don’t tell means
  2. Learn from examples of showing versus telling
  3. Cut the “sensing” words to show don’t tell
  4. Avoid emotional explaining when showing not telling
  5. Describe body language
  6. Use strong verbs to show don’t tell
  7. Focus on describing senses
  8. Practice showing not telling every day

In fact, it’s why they’re known as the best writers of all time.

But although these writers knew how to bring their writing to life instinctually, not all of us are so lucky. We have to learn the process of show don’t tell, which can be tricky if you don’t know where to start.

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

What does show don’t tell mean?

Show don’t tell describes writing by showing the actions and relationships and feelings instead of just telling the reader what happened. This creates a much deeper connection and brings readers closer to you (or the main character).

At a first glance, this writing rule could be confused for the best day in Kindergarten when you bring your pet lizard in to show the class.

But in actuality, show don’t tell refers to the way in which you describe the experience you (or your character) went through.

And that makes them feel deeper and stronger about the story. It creates empathy and invests the reader – which is exactly what you need

Writing your book introduction with an abundance of showing not telling is a powerful way to draw readers in for the duration of your entire book.

But this technique is much easier shown than told (hehe – see what I did there?).

Show Don’t Tell Examples:

These examples are pretty basic but that’s the best way to gain an understanding of what this looks like. Keep in mind that your sentences may be more complex than these examples, but still full of “tell” words or phrases.

Be on the lookout for the details.

Show Don’t Tell Example #1:

Tell: “I heard footsteps creeping behind me and it made the whole situation scarier.”

Show: “Crunching hit my ears from behind, accelerating the already rampant pounding of my heart against my ribs.”

Why this showing example is better:

In an instance such as this, you want the reader to feel what you did: the surprise and the sense of urgency, the fear.

Describing the crunching that hit your ears even through the pounding of your heart not only creates a powerful visual, but it also tells the reader the state your body was in during that intense moment. The first example is weak and does little to explain how you actually felt in that moment.

show don't tell

Show Don’t Tell Example #2:

Tell: “She was my best friend. I could tell her almost anything.”

Show:I met her at the town square, running in for our usual hug that carried on for far too long as we gushed about our lives with smiles lighting our faces.”

Why this showing example is better:

The first example of telling is shorter, but it doesn’t do a great job of really showing the impact you have on each other. Anyone can think of “best friend” and form an overall thought about what that looks like. But this isn’t just “anyone.” This is your best friend. Showing your relationship with one another is vital to forging that deeper connection.

show don't tell example

Why should you show don’t tell in writing?

The entire point of showing versus telling in writing is to make a stronger emotional connection with your readers and hook them.

They already picked up your book for the killer title and eye-grabbing cover, but they need a reason to stay.

The idea behind this writing technique is to put the reader in your shoes. Make them feel, hear, and sense the situation as you did.

It’s about creating an experience for the reader instead of just a recount of events.

Doing this makes the reader want to root for you. They want to hear your whole story and in turn, they’ll read your whole book.

Why is showing not telling also important for non-fiction?

If you write fiction, you hear this advice all the time. However, all of you non-fiction writers out there, this piece of writing advice might be new to you.

Show don’t tell isn’t always the first thing a non-fiction writer thinks of when it comes to adding more intrigue to your story.

But it is the most vital for pulling your reader in and not only hooking them, but keeping them with you throughout the duration of your book.

Many fiction writers hear this writing advice often because it’s one of the best ways to make real people feel deeply for fictional characters.

When it comes to writing a story about your life and something you went through, the idea is the same. By showing and not telling, you’ll be able to guide them through your real-life situation as an experience and not just some book they’re reading while the kids are yelling at their video games and the oven alarm is blaring in the distance.

If you can show don’t tell the right way, the reader won’t even notice those distractions.

show don't tell

How to Show Don’t Tell in Writing

So now you know what it is and why it’s important, but how the heck do you actually do it? The process of taking a single story and crafting it to create more emotion can be difficult.

Thankfully, we have some of the best tips for showing not telling in writing.

#1 – Get rid of all basic sensory words

Phrases like, “I heard,” “I felt,” and “I smelled,” are all very weak. These are “telling” words and phrases (also commonly referred to as “filters”) that force the reader further away from you and your experience.

That’s exactly what you want to avoid.

Instead, you need to pull them into your world and into your psyche the very moment you were encountering the situation.

This is done through using strong verbs and other visual language.

Show Don’t Tell Exercise #1:

Step 1: Read through your writing and circle every telling word you can find. Anything that explains one of the 5 senses.

Step 2: Then write down specifics for each. If you heard someone creeping up behind you, how did you hear it? Was it crunching on gravel? Was it the shuffling of shoes against carpet?

show don't tell

Once you have these, rewrite those sections by explaining how the senses manifested to you and not just what you sensed (detailed below in the next writing exercise).

#2 – Don’t use “emotion explaining” words

This might be a bit tricky and you certainly don’t have to follow this one 100% of the time, but if you can get this right, it’ll make showing versus telling so much easier to grasp.

Think of any word to describe an emotion. I’ll help you out a little:

  • Happy
  • Sad
  • Angry
  • Frustrated
  • Excited
  • Giddy
  • Love
  • Anxious
  • Joy
  • Disgust

I could go on, but I think you get the idea.

These are all great words to describe how someone felt. However, they’re also very weak, unexciting ways to do so.

If you need your readers to understand how excited you were at any given time, show them. Don’t just tell them, “I was so excited!”

Show them the sweat beading your forehead as you raced to your destination. Show them the lifting of your cheeks as your lips parted way for an uncontrollable smile.

Show Don’t Tell Exercise #2:

Skim through your writing and circle every word that’s an emotion.

Then, for every emotion-explaining word you find, write down physical reactions of feeling that way.

show don't tell

Once you have a small list for each circled word, use it to craft a couple sentences to describe (and show!) just what that looked like.

You can see the difference alone between these two paragraphs. By replacing all of the “telling” words and phrases, it develops into an experience for the reader and not just a retelling of what happened.

show don't tell

#3 – Describe body language

One of the best ways you can show not tell in writing is to use strong descriptive language when it comes to body language.

A person’s actions are really a gateway to their mind and how they feel.

You can tell if another person has a crush on someone just by paying attention to the way their body adjusts when in that person’s presence, right?

Showing versus telling in writing is exactly that. You want to show the reader what is happening and allow them to form a conclusion about how you or others in your story felt based on what they look like.

In all honesty, a lot of this one is about having faith that your audience can put two and two together.

Oftentimes, we tend to over explain in an effort to make something obvious when really, the emotion is in the guesswork; it’s in allowing someone to draw their own conclusions. That over-explaining is what comes across as “telly” and not as emotionally compelling.

And honestly? It’s also pretty boring and flat.

If you do a great job of showing what you want readers to see, they’ll understand how someone feels – and they’ll even feel that way themselves.

That’s the power of showing not telling.

#4 – Use strong verbs

Showing itself can be extremely impactful, but using strong language and verbs in specific situations is even more powerful for adding depth to your story.

The way you make someone else actually feel how you did as you were going through the experience is to make sure the words you’re using directly reflect the emotions.

This can be a difficult task for those who aren’t sure what “strong language” looks likes, but I’ll make it easier for you.

Show Don’t Tell Exercise #3:

Think of a situation you want to explain in your book (or maybe something you already have written out).

Now imagine what feeling you want to convey through that scene. What do you want your readers to take away from that specific moment in your story? List those emotions so you can see all of them.

show don't tell

Take that list and start writing ways in which you can bring those emotions to life. What do those things mean for you? How would these emotions manifest during that specific time?

show don't tell

Now take those stronger verbs and words that depict a deeper emotion and craft your sentence or paragraph with those to reflect how you truly felt.

show don't tell

How does this sentence make you feel? Do you feel comfort, relaxation, and a sense that I love being there?

That was the purpose.

It’s about taking one specific idea or vibe or feeling and using what you know to transform it into something that’s showing not telling.

This specific example for show don’t tell can be a little time-consuming at first, but you will get the hang of it and these methods will soon become second nature to you.

#5 – Focus on describing senses

We told you to cut sensing words in tip #1, and that’s true, but with this comes the fact that you still have to describe what your character is feeling and sensing.

Showing versus telling is largely about allowing your readers to interpret what your characters are going through without just telling them.

This often means using all the senses you can to depict a scene.

Instead of saying, “She hated it there.” you can use her senses to show the readers that emotion.

For example: writing with showing like this “The faint scent of stale cigarette smoke met her nostrils, pulling her face into a familiar grimace.” allows your readers to understand that she finds where she is distasteful, without having to just say so.

#6 – Practice showing not telling every day

To master the tip of show don’t tell in writing, it takes time and practice to get it right. There’s a fine line of using showing versus telling in your writing.

With regular practice (by writing every day, we suggest), you’ll learn when to use telling and when to use showing in order to give the reader the best reading experience they have.

You can even practice by reading other books and your own writing. Recognizing areas of showing can help you do it more in your own works.

What to do Next?

Show don’t tell can be difficult to master unless you’re constantly thinking about it. But because this specific writing skill is vital for building strong emotional connections, you have to implement this information.

Here’s what you can do going forward.

#1 Join your FREE training

You can’t have too much knowledge when it comes to writing and publishing.

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#2 – Practice

There are 3 writing exercises listed above. As you write going forward, keep showing not telling in the forefront of your mind to foster a more compelling emotional connection.

You can use these exercises every single time you sit down to write or you can take a day of editing to go through each section you think needs more showing.

If your manuscript is finished and you’re ready for a full self-edit, these exercises are also extremely helpful editing guidelines.

Either way, practicing will help this technique become easy and even natural – which will allow you to write more, faster.

#3 – Watch for it in books you read

You’ll quickly learn that any good books you’ve read that make you feel something will have an abundance of show don’t tell examples.

If you’re okay with scribbling in your books, you can even highlight examples to learn from when you feel stuck.

Not only will doing this help you to recognize these instances more, you’ll also get better at writing it yourself. The easier showing not telling is for you, the stronger your writing will be.


Being informed and increasing your writing knowledge is essential because the more you know, the better your writing, and in turn, the better your book will be.

Let’s get your story heard!

Are you a master of show don’t tell or are you just getting started? Let us know what works best for you when it comes to forging a deeper connection with your readers through your writing!

book edits

Do You Need a Book Editor? Why Authors Have to Hire Editors

Do you really need to hire a book editor—especially when you self-publish?

Let’s face it…

Gone are the days when an aspiring writer only dreamed of publishing. Technology has made self-publishing about as commonplace as learning to drive.

hire a book editor

Here’s what you’ll learn about hiring a book editor:

  1. Why do you need a book editor?
  2. What does a book editor do?
  3. What the self-editing process is
  4. When to hire an editing team
  5. What is a good book editor
  6. How much does a book editor cost?
  7. Accepting that you need an editor

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

Why do you need a book editor?

Tried and true strategies for creating, producing, and organizing content are readily available to any aspiring author along with a wide range of self-publishing courses from self-publishing companies and free resources that decode the once mysterious process of writing and publishing a book.

Anyone willing to put in the time, energy, cost, and effort can crank out and self-publish a book. It’s really that simple.           

Well, that’s the good news.

Far less straightforward, however, is the multifaceted, often undervalued topic of book editing—the essential step that makes your manuscript actually worth reading.

Working with an editor is, in fact, so important that some authors, particularly fiction writers, begin their writing process with an editor’s support.

Most authors seek the help of an editor at the end stages of their process, and, depending on how much work was put into the first draft, hiring an entire editorial team may be necessary. If this sounds costly and time-consuming, it definitely can be, but these are included in the cost of publishing a book.

Fortunately, the work and cost of editing your manuscript can be mitigated by educating yourself about the process, incorporating editing costs into your overall budget, and learning how to self-edit your manuscript, so you can be prepared for the last step in turning your manuscript into a finished book.

And you thought writing the manuscript was the hard part!

The Self-Editing Process

After the grueling first draft is complete, many first-time authors find themselves dismayed by the unforeseen cost of editing. Not to mention overwhelmed by the extensive rewriting they are suddenly burdened with just when they thought the heavy lifting was over.

Most novice writers are unaware that revision is 80 percent of the work involved in book writing. So if you get to that glorious moment when you finish your rough draft only to feel beaten down when you realize just how much revising you have to do, you’re not alone.

book editor notes

For those unaware of what it will ultimately take to polish your manuscript for publication, the back-end job you are presented with at the last stages of writing a book can be both costly and extensive if you didn’t devote ample time to editing early drafts.

But there is hope!

Considering the following can help you prepare your draft for editorial review and save you money.

When to Hire Your Editing Team

Yes, I said “team.”

When I worked in traditional publishing, every manuscript went through no less than four separate editors. Sometimes close to a dozen rounds of editing.

And you know what? There were still usually a few typos that slipped through!

Let that sink in for a second.

Just as producing a manuscript involves a varied skill set—writing, formatting, cover design, etc.—so does editing it.

Depending on your genre, writing skills, experience, and how much time you put into revising your draft and incorporating the feedback of trustworthy readers, you can determine which kind of editor you need to get you to the next phase without spending extra time and money.

Estimating editing costs (along with the approximate time it will take to complete each stage of the editing process) in your budget and timeline will also save you time and energy finding top-notch editors you can afford.

What makes a good book editor & can I afford one?

Well, yes. But only if you are willing to put the time and effort into your manuscript.

Before you start reaching out to prospective editors, it is important to assess the work you’ve done from an objective standpoint so you can shop according to your budget and particular needs.

Consider the following before hiring a book editor:

  • Your overall budget for editing
  • How many beta readers have provided feedback (people who read your rough draft)
  • Your experience level
  • Your timeline
  • How much time has been spent reworking the text

If you’ve never worked with an editor before, it’s important to know who does what and when to employ their services.

There are a few different types of edits to be aware of before hiring an editor.

Developmental editors address the big picture, looking closely at the content to analyze structure, plot, and characters in works of fiction and the rhetorical concerns, organization, and overall flow of ideas in non-fiction.

Content editors analyze the existing content in the book itself. Specifically paragraph flow, tense, voice, and readability. Just remember that all editing is subjective. What one editor likes, another may not. So it is super important to find someone who specializes in your book genre for this stage.

Copy editors focus on the nitty-gritty of grammar, syntax, punctuation, and clarity and may also revise and rework particular sentences or paragraphs.

Proofreaders are the last readers/editors in line who myopically comb through the manuscript for any remaining errors. Just remember, if you didn’t have your draft copyedited first, the proofreader is unlikely to catch everything.

Keep in mind no one is perfect. Typos happen. It’s just life.

Depending on your genre, skillset, and budget, you may want to consult with developmental editors after you’ve written several chapters or even as you outline your book and brainstorm.

This will help you steer clear of major revision (hopefully) and set you on course for a smooth book writing process. In general, it’s a good idea to start assembling your team as you near the end stages and prepare yourself and your manuscript for editorial review.

Here’s an example of what you can (and should) find regarding the different types of book edits when you research your own editor.

types of book editor

How Much Does a Book Editor Cost?

Most editors do not charge by the hour. Book editing costs are assessed based on word count or by the page, and editing rates differ depending on the type you need. Generally, you can expect to pay anywhere from $.05-.18 per word for copyediting, $.03-.07 for developmental editing, and $.01-.02 for proofreading.

These costs vary greatly depending on the editor’s experience, reputation, demand, and the amount of work they will need to put into your draft. It is not uncommon to spend several thousand dollars editing a full-length book.

But fear not! There are various approaches you can take to keep costs low if money is an issue.

Here’s how you can save money when hiring an editor:

  • Assemble a team of beta readers who can provide feedback for revisions during the writing process. Share several chapters at a time, incorporate any feedback into your revisions, and choose people who are willing to give you honest notes. This can be particularly helpful for content-related issues.
  • Consider hiring a college student or reader with a background in English who has a passion for editing and won’t be concerned about hurting your feelings.
  • Check out freelance websites like UpWorkor even a great site called Scribendi. (Warning: if you source an editor from these sites, make sure you hire another, professional set of eyes to go over it afterward. There is no way to know what you are getting otherwise. Just because the draft comes back better than it was before, does not mean it was well-edited!)
  • Take the time to educate yourself about grammar, punctuation, outlining, and other technical issues, especially for nonfiction works. Rely on websites such as The Owl at Purdue for style guidelines and support with grammar, punctuation, and research concerns.
  • Fiction writers may want to join a writers group or workshop to benefit from the help of others who have experience with your genre and can help you develop your craft, challenge flaws in your narrative or character development, and help you improve the overall quality of your story. A flawed plot or character is much harder to revise after you finish writing your book, so it’s important to catch such problematic aspects of your book early on.
  • Don’t overestimate your skills and brilliance as an author! At least not when you’re working your early drafts. Even the best writers agonize over and discard much of what they initially produce, as there is simply no way around combining inspiration with structure.
  • Read books on writing, seek information about the kind of writing you’re doing, and find ways to approach your work with a fresh perspective.
  • Give yourself ample time and space away from your project so you can see it as clearly and objectively as possible.
  • Accept that you will never be totally objective about your writing, and that you will need, no matter how great your book is, the help of others to turn your manuscript into a masterpiece.

Your Book is Still Your Book

When all is said and done, just keep in mind this is your book and no one else’s. The beauty of self-publishing is that you have the final say in your own work.

There is no big, bad publisher denouncing your creative freedom.

If you don’t agree with some of the suggested edits, delete them! Your editors don’t know your book-baby as well as you do.

So, while expert feedback is essential to creating a polished, professional-quality book, have some faith in yourself and your writing.

You chose to write for a reason. So keep that in mind as your editor chops up the book you worked oh-so-hard on.

When you find the right editors (and it may take a few tries), whom you work well with, hold onto them! If you do, it will be mutually beneficial as you create and build together.

Happy editing!

Are you ready to publish your book for success?

Hiring a book editor is just one of the many steps necessary in the publishing process.

In order to avoid making mistakes when publishing, watch our free training that goes into depth on how to succeed as a self-published author.

Join Chandler Bolt at his FREE Webinar Training as he reveals the exact tactics and strategies he used to write and publish 6 bestselling books in a row – and how he used them to build a 7-figure business in less than 2 years!

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writing tips

17 Writing Tips & Actionable Exercises to Write Better Today [VIDEO]

Writing tips have aided every writer out there—from Earnest Hemingway to Stephen King.

And now you’re here for a reason…

You want to learn how to write better through specific writing tips. Because let’s be honest…we all feel like our writing could use some improvement.

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.

tips for writing

But it can be hard to know where you actually need the improvement. Which areas are your weakest and which do you excel in?

Here are 17 writing tips to improve writing skills:

  1. Write what you want to read
  2. Write with intention
  3. Use psychology
  4. Write as often as you can
  5. Eliminate distractions
  6. Research storytelling and story structure
  7. Always get feedback
  8. Focus on new ways to phrase common visuals
  9. Practice writing when you’re not writing
  10. Use strong language
  11. Just write to write
  12. “Just do it.”
  13. “You’ve got to work.”
  14. “Write for yourself first.”
  15. “Quantity will make up for quality.”
  16. “Tell the truth.”
  17. “You can’t edit a blank page.”

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.

NOTE: We cover a number of writing tips in our VIP Self-Publishing program, along with everything you’ll need to write, market, and publish your book to bestseller status.

Click here to learn more

Let’s get started.

Writing Tips to Help You Become an Author

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.

Join your FREE training and learn how you can write a better book – in as little as 90 days if you really focus.

Just click the button below to watch!

Click here to start your training TODAY

How to Improve Writing with Tips for Writing a Book

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. You have to form a writing habit in order to do this.

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 write a book 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, and this makes publishing your book and showing it to the world much easier.

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 writing resources for beginners:

What are some 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 for this writing tip, ask yourself these questions:

  • Would you pick it up to read the back cover?
  • Would you personally look for a book like this?
  • Is this a genre you personally enjoy?
  • Will you develop the characters in a way that makes you root for them?
  • Is the story captivating to you?
  • Have you read and loved other books with similar worlds/characters/stories?

If you can’t answer these questions with a confident “yes,” skip the book idea and write one you actually want to.

#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.

If all you’re doing is writing a book to make money, then your heart (and therefore your passion) is in the wrong place. This makes it very clear to readers through your writing.

Below is a writing tips exercise to help you achieve writing with intention.

writing tips

#3 – Use psychology to write better

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.

This is how using psychology as a writing tips helps you get better:

  • You’ll craft more realistic characters
  • Your antagonist’s and protagonist’s motives will be more realistic
  • You can take your readers on a better experience by learning to manipulate their emotions with your plot
  • You can easily hit emotional triggers in readers that prompt them to keep turning pages
  • You’ll better understand what it takes to write a novel that’s engaging

The Write Practice has a fantastic resource for how to use psychology to become a better writer.

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.

Writing Tips Action Step:

In order to accurately research for your book, think about what you want your readers to take away from each chapter, and then the book as a whole.

Then research how real people interpret those specific messages.

For example:

If you want readers to feel inspired during a certain part of your book, research “psychology of inspiration” and read how one can build up to feel inspired and even how it affects their outlook in order to better craft the next chapters.

#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?), then write something else.

Here are a few ways you can utilize this writing tip by writing 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 software, 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.

Here are our writing tips to get rid of distractions:

  • Use a distraction-blocking App like Freedom or PauseFor
  • Shut your phone off and put it in another room
  • Close out of all apps or windows on your computer
  • Spend 15 minutes listening to music that reminds you of your book to get you in the zone
  • Tell all your friends/family to leave you alone for writing time

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.

writing tips for beginners

#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.

When you have a story idea worth writing, there’s a few things to remember.

Here are our top writing tips for learning the craft of storytelling:

  • Study comedians – the reason comedy is, well, funny is because comedians know how to tell stories in a way that keep us on the edge of our seat, and then they surprise us, which often initiates the laughter.
  • Learn from great storytellers – Stephen King is one of the best storytellers of all time. He has a book, On Writing, that touches on this craft. Give it a read for some of the best writing tips you’ll find.
  • Read as much as you can – Writers learn how to write through reading. The more you read, and the wider variety of genres, the more you’ll naturally pick up on the art of storytelling.
  • Get feedback on your stories – This is the hardest, but most crucial writing tip to help you improve. You have to understand your weaknesses in order to make them stronger. Ask friends and family for help in order to learn how to make your stories better.

Writing Tips Action Step:

Read books, listen to podcasts, or watch videos about the art of crafting a story.

Another great way to learn the ins and outs of storytelling is to watch great comedians. The reason they can make you laugh is how they craft what they’re saying.

Notice the pauses, when they speed through what they’re saying, and how they deliver that final line.

These are all techniques you can use on a larger scale when writing your book.

#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 why the beta reading process is so vital. It’s when you let others read your book in order to gain feedback from people in your intended audience.

That’s what it’s like for your writing. You need an outside set of eyes on your work.

Jenna Moreci has a great resource on the beta reading process you can check out.

Here are some specific questions to ask others for this tip to improve writing:

  1. Did you find anything confusing or unclear?
  2. Did you understand why InsertNameHere did what they did?
  3. Were you able to easily follow the dialogue?
  4. Was the dialogue in writing clear and concise?
  5. Which character did you empathize with more?
  6. Do you have any predictions about what will happen?
  7. Do you have any feedback I didn’t ask you about?

#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 of this writing tip 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.

Like this:

“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 in your head

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.

Like this:

“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.

So how do you recognize weak language?

Here are some mistakes to look for in your writing to utilizing this writing tip:

  • Passive voice – Passive voice is any use of a “to be” past participle. Now, that’s just a fancy way of saying that if you have something was done by something, it’s passive voice. An example of this is: “The chicken was beheaded by the farmer.” That is passive voice, whereas, “The farmer beheaded the chicken.” is active voice.
  • Weak verbs – These are the basic, non-detailed version of better verbs. An example would be, “She walked to the store.” In this case, “walked” is the weak verb. You can use another form of this verb to create a stronger visual for your reader. Here’s what that would look like: “She strutted to the store.”
  • Emotion explaining – Using words that are emotions in your writing is a pretty clear indicator you have to show and not tell. Saying, “She was scared,” is telling. You can create a better experience for the reader by showing that she’s scared through body language, dialogue, and description.
writing tips for beginners

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.

Writing Tips Action Step:

Fill out your information for instant access to your strong verbs list of over 300+ verbs to use!



#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.

One of the best writing tips I ever received was to always have a side project going on, something you have no intention of ever publishing. This is where your real writing happens.

It’s a place for you to experiment, discover your writing voice, and learn what you truly love to write while still working on your main project and accomplishing those goals.

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.

“I think the main thing is: Just do it. Plunge in! Being Canadian, I go swimming in icy cold lakes, and there is always that dithering moment. ‘Am I really going to do this? Won’t it hurt?’

And at some point you just have to flop in there and scream. Once you’re in, keep going. You may have to crumple and toss, but we all do that. Courage! I think that is what’s most required.”

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, she is someone you want to take advice from—especially now that Margaret Atwood’s Masterclass is available.

#2 – “You’ve got to work for it.”

writing tips jk rowling

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?

“You’ve got to work. It’s about structure. It’s about discipline. It’s all these deadly things that your school teacher told you you needed…

You need it.”

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.”

writing tips stephen king

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.

“When you write a story, you’re telling yourself the story. When you rewrite, your main job is taking out all the things that are not the story.

Your stuff starts out being just for you, but then it goes out.”

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.”

writing tips

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.

“Michelangelo’s, da Vinci’s, Tintoretto’s billion sketches, the quantitative, prepared them for the qualitative, single sketches further down the line, single portraits, single landscapes of incredible control and beauty.”

In essence, the more you practice writing, the better you’ll become and that makes all the difference when it comes to separating yourself form other writers.

#5 – “Tell the truth.”

writing tips maya angelou

Miss 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.

“I look at some of the great novelists, and I think the reason they are great is that they’re telling the truth.

The fact is they’re using made-up names, made-up people, made-up places, and made-up times, but they’re telling the truth about the human being—what we are capable of, what makes us lose, laugh, weep, fall down, and gnash our teeth and wring our hands and kill each other and love each other.”

When you have a truth worth sharing, writing becomes easier, more meaningful, and therefore more impactful for those reading it.

This ties into our writing tip above about writing what you want to read. Focus on telling your truth.

#6 – “You can’t edit a blank page.”

tips for writing a book

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.

“You can always edit a bad page.

You can’t edit a blank page.”

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.

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What are some of the best writing tips you’ve seen or heard? Drop them down below so we can all benefit from them!

how to write a children's book

How to Write a Children’s Book with 11 Easy Steps for Success

Learning how to write a children’s book involves a number of steps. It’s more than just writing out a silly idea and drawing pictures…

Have you written a book for children that has been rejected by agents and publishers over and over? Or do you have a page full of kids’ writing prompts or book ideas but no idea what to do with them?

If you’re like me, this has made you wonder if you’re good enough, smart enough, talented enough, or just plain enough for this writing and publishing for kids gig…

write a children's book

I’ve met my fair share of authors who’ve been swindled by hybrid publishers or spent years investing time, money, and energy into an industry that has given them little in return.

Never fear! We are here to help you!

Here’s how to write a children’s book:

  1. Determine who you’re writing for
  2. Learn what makes a good children’s book
  3. Read a lot of children’s books
  4. Flesh out your own book idea
  5. Outline your children’s book
  6. Narrow the details
  7. Write your children’s book!
  8. Re-read and revise your first draft
  9. Get your book edited
  10. Find a children’s book illustrator
  11. Celebrate writing a children’s book!

NOTE: We cover everything in this blog post and much more about the writing, marketing, and publishing process in our VIP Self-Publishing Program (Yes! We even pair you up with a children’s book coach if that’s what you’re writing!).
Learn more about it here

What is a Children’s Book?

At its core, children’s books are everything from Young Adult down to board books for your teething kiddo. But there are a wide variety of standards and skill between these opposite ends.

For example, books for young adults are full of detail, world-building, plots and subplots, setting creation, and strong character development, with no pictures, for thousands of words.

Picture books, on the other hand, serve our 0 to 8-year-old audience and have very few words, lots of pictures, simple plots but intense engagement.

For our purposes here, let’s think Early Reader down to Mom-or-Dad-reads-it-to-you. Everything else is essentially novel writing for an older child audience.

Why write a children’s book?

There are a number of reasons to write for children. The bonuses and motivation for writing children’s books will often be much different than if you want to write a full novel.

Here are some of the wrong reasons to write a children’s book:

  • “I’m retired now and want to make a livable wage doing something easy.”
  • “Children’s books are short so I know they’re easy to write and fast to the money.”
  • “I want to write but I’m not sure what. Kids don’t expect much so I’ll write for them.”
  • “There are some awful children’s books out there. I know I can do at least that well.”

Here are some of the right reasons to publish a children’s book:

  • “Children are the present and future of our world. I really want to impact them.”
  • “I want to make writing for kids my business and have a plan to write many books.”
  • “I LOVE children’s books (even though I’m an adult) and want to write them so much, that I’m willing to learn how to write well in order to exceed their expectations.”
  • “There are some awful children’s books out there. I want to improve the quality of children’s literature to give kids a better reading experience.”

The reality is, children’s books are the most difficult type of literature to write and produce.

You have to engage an adult audience (the people who hand over the money and are likely to be the one reading your book Every. Single. Day.) but you also have to engage the children, who will beg their money-wielding parent to buy the book and read it to them Every. Single. Day.

Additionally, you only have zero to 700 words to communicate an entire story, with inciting incident, climactic moment, and final resolution, to the full satisfaction of both adult and child—much like when writing short stories. On repeat.

writing children's book

Children’s Books Are on the Rise

The good news is that children’s book sales are on the rise. According to a 2017 article in Publisher’s Weekly, children’s books have become a centerpiece for many traditional publishers because the increase has surpassed those of every other genre counterpart.

Between 2012 and 2017 children’s book sales doubled, with a trajectory to continue increasing.

In 2018, 31 out of the UK’s 100 bestselling books were children’s books. That’s a huge percentage!

If I’m honest, I didn’t enter the children’s industry for the “right” reasons. I have always been a writer and was finally ready to pursue that professionally.

So, in 2007, I began the hunt toward publishing. Self-publishing was nearly unheard of and I knew enough about traditional publishing to know that who you know matters as much as the quality of your work.

What I learned Writing Children’s Books

Before we teach you how to write a children’s book, it’s important to understand a few key things I wish I knew when I got started.

Here’s what I learned writing a children’s book:

  1. The children’s industry is highly competitive. So even though sales are on the rise, so are people writing and publishing them.
  2. Books that thrive in the industry are extremely well written and well marketed.
  3. It takes time to study the craft of writing for children well and of marketing and selling your book well. Thus, it also takes time to make money.
  4. Self-publishing children’s books is a totally viable and profitable way to produce your stories. From conversations I’ve had, I learned that I make more money per book sold than my traditionally published counterparts, have to do the same level of marketing as they do, have more creative control, and can get my book out in three months instead of one to two years. (I have many friends in the traditional industry and I love their contribution to market research and high-quality value. Together, we partner to impact children.)
  5. Writing for children is the best. Fan mail for kids? Nothing else like it. Experiencing the giggles and gasps of kids who are caught up in your words is life-giving. And knowing that your story is a safe space, gives kids permission to be uniquely them, and passes on important life skills to our upcoming generation is among the highest of honors.

With time and practice, I learned how to set my expectations correctly, develop a writing habit, and produce high quality, professional, and engaging children’s books.

If, after reading the right reasons to write a book for children, you realized this is YOU, then stick with me a bit longer and I’ll walk you through some standard first steps.

If, after reading the wrong reasons to write a book for children, you realized this is YOU, then consider writing a book for adults. We have some great resources on how to determine what you should write, starting with something that gets you excited, that you can write quickly, and that you can write easily.

For the rest of you, there are a number of standards and steps to get you going on writing your first children’s book.

How to Write a Children’s Book Step by Step

Writing a children’s book has a different overall book writing process than say, when you’re writing a novel.

We’ve broken down the steps for writing children’s books with a strategy that works.

#1 – Determine for whom you’re writing

Everything about how you start your book: your story idea, book layout, page count, number of illustrations, and depth of the plot depend on who you are writing for.

A picture book, for example, is normally ready aloud by an adult. The child is captivated by full spreads of illustration and relies almost entirely on listening to the story.

Language can be a little more developed, poetic, and nuanced since the book is as much for the reading adult as it is for the child. Early chapter books, on the other hand, are for the older budding reader who still relies on some artwork while gaining vocabulary.

If you don’t know the age and stage of the child you’re writing for, you might lose their interest. The following is a guide for your book according to age group.

Determine What You’re Writing:

Children’s books length varies depending on the age group you want to write for and the detail of the story you want to tell.

If you want to write for children 0 – 4 years old, then you’re most likely writing a board book or a very simple, short concept book.

These books often teach children their colors or how to count or demonstrate a routine like bath time or bedtime, in 0 – 100 words.

Children ages 3 – 8 love picture books. These are stories 0 – 700 words (1000 at the most) that use full page images to tell a story.

These books are often read aloud to children by an adult. Picture books rely in part on the quality of the story as told through text and the work of the illustration to communicate the story. With so few words, picture books must be compelling and tell a complete story, meaning that every word must be purposeful in moving the story forward.

Early Readers are short chapter books aimed at 5 – 7 year-olds and range from 200 – 5000 words. This youngest chapter book is designed for kiddos who see big kids reading chapter books and really want to read them, too.

However, these kids are still developing reading skills and need simple language because they are reading it solo. Chapters are short so kids can feel successful as they make their way through such a “big” book. These are most popular in the educational market as a bridge for younger readers between picture books and chapter books.

Here’s a handy table for an easier overview:

Children's AgeBook Length
0 - 4 years old
0 - 100 words
3 - 8 years old0 - 700 words
5 - 7 years old200 - 5000 words
6 - 7 years old5000 - 20,000 words
8 - 10 years old20,000 - 35,000 words
Tweens40,000 - 55,000 words
Young Adult50,000 - 70,000

Naturally, as age of target child increases, word count increases, and the depth of the plot increases as well. These books include illustrations, in lesser measure as the word count increases, stopping around Middle Grade.

This is a great resource for determining what you want to write (and for whom). This article was written primarily for writers in the traditional industry but is a great standard for us as well.

#2 – What Makes a Good Children’s Book?

Children’s books are unique in the sense that their lesson and what children learn are so very important, but you also have to create this in a way that holds their attention.

Here are some criteria for writing a good children’s book:

  1. It has an important lesson
  2. The story is easy to follow for your chosen age-range
  3. The illustrations are high-quality and professional
  4. It’s relatable to a wide range of children

#3 – Read LOTS of books in your category

There are many different genres to choose from when writing for children and the best way to write them well is to read them often.

The following are a sampling of the options:

  • Realistic Fiction: Made up stories that could happen today in real life (but didn’t).
  • Historical Fiction: Made up stories based on actual historical events.
  • Biography: A story like this, or a memoir, is based on the life of a real person.
  • Fantasy: Made up stories that involve ideas that don’t happen in real life.
  • Science Fiction: Made up stories that generally aren’t plausible and are normally set in the future involving some level of science and technology.
  • Poetry: Writing poetry is telling stories told in verse, rhyming or not, mean to communicate in such a way as to evoke emotion.
  • Non Fiction: True stories that are informational (to teach facts) or based on actual real-life stories.
  • Folklore: These are the stories, often told orally first, that represent our history, our culture, our stories, myths, legends, nursery rhymes, songs of the past, and even some passed on fairy tales. These are often retold since we don’t know the original author.

Reading books in your genre can help you understand the story structure that works, including how to start your story, the maturity of the content for your intended audience, and more.

#4 – Come up with an idea

Children’s story ideas can be silly, deep, inspiring, hilarious, zany, serious, and straight up weird. They can make you laugh, cry, gasp, squeal, giggle and guffaw.

Ideas like these come from so many places: the kids around you (eavesdrop on ‘em, it’s great), adults around you (eavesdropping actually goes a long way as a writer), nature, books, movies, newspaper articles, youtube videos, animals… be an observer and you’ll find ideas everywhere!

Here are a few of my favorites places to come up with children’s book ideas:

  • Fractured Fairy Tales: Take a commonly known myth or legend and retell it in a new and creative way. Think “The True Story of the Three Little Pigs” (as told by the wolf), Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs, or my very own book, Tercules. I took the legend of Hercules, combined him with a wild turkey chick, and voila.
  • Unlikely Characters and Settings: Speaking of Tercules, another great place to get ideas is by throwing together two very unlikely characters and dropping them in an unlikely setting. Shark versus Train is a great example of this.
  • Putting Characters in Child-like Settings and Circumstances: Some book ideas are life skills we want to teach our kids in creative ways. The Princess and the Potty worked magic with my daughter. Or Is Your Buffalo Ready for Kindergarten?, illustrated by my friend, Daniel. Taking a unique character and putting them in the position of a child will help kids catch all sorts of great life skills. Or on a more serious note, my own Speranza’s Sweater: A Child’s Journey Through Foster Care and Adoption, gives children permission to experience the many conflicting feelings of adoption through the lens of Speranza. Our own SPS coach, Jed Jurchenko, also does this with his recent release, The Stormy Secret, helping kids navigate the safe places to share secrets imposed on them.

#5 – Outline the Story

Once you have an idea, start laying it out in a book format. Yes, this is essentially outlining. Depending on the book category and genre, this outline will look different. For a picture book, the story will be, on average, 28 pages of story.

Create a book dummy and fill in the pages with your idea. (To make a book dummy, take 16 pages of regular paper and fold them together in half to make a small booklet.

This should create a 32 page “book.” The first few pages are your title page and copyright page, 28 pages of story, and then any end matter you’d like to include, like “About the Author” or an author’s note.

Use this book dummy to layout your scenes and choose where in your story you want the page to turn.

If you’re writing a chapter book, make sure to outline the entire story with the five important milestones of a strong plotline, as well as the individual chapters. If you’re more of a pantzer, writing by the seat of your pants, then at the very least have a framework for your story so you don’t get lost on rabbit trails.

If you get lost, your readers will too.

#6 – Nail Down the Details

Choose whether you’ll write the book in poetry or prose, first person or third person, past tense or present tense.

Use other books in your genre to guide you as a standard.

If you choose to write in poetry, be aware that if you can’t do it perfectly, you really shouldn’t do it at all. Poetry is much more than rhyming words. It’s meter. Rhythm. Timing. Pacing.

If one of these is off, it throws your reader off and discredits your book and your storytelling skills. If it can be told just as well in prose, do it. If you have mastered poetry, do it.

#7 – Write that first draft!

Don’t stress the details, just get the story down.

One of the biggest hangups preventing all authors from being successful is finishing writing a book.

If you can accomplish this, you’re further along in the process than most other writers you never get past the idea phase.

Here are a few tips to finish your draft:

  • Schedule writing time
  • Get an accountability partner for external motivation
  • Set a deadline
  • Get rid of distractions while writing
  • Focus on just FINISHING, no editing along the way

#8 – Re-read and revise your first draft

Do you have enough words? Too many words? Add or cut as necessary.

Does your story make sense? Are there plot holes you need to address? Did you break any of the “rules”? If so, why? If not, why?

Tighten up your draft.

This self-editing process can take a while, but you’ll feel better sending a cleaner, tighter manuscript to the editor because it can only get even better from there.

#9 – Get a critique and/or an edit.

This gives you a chance to get a children’s book professional’s feedback on the marketability of your book, the content of your book, and to address any grammatical issues.

No matter how well you think you’ve nailed grammar or understand a child’s brain, your set of eyes alone will never be sufficient for a perfect draft.

I’m a seasoned writer and editor and I still don’t trust myself to catch every grammatical issue or plot hole. Invite a professional to give you content feedback as well as outside eyes on your grammar and syntax.

But not just any professional! Make sure they have strong experience in the children’s writing industry and credibility to back up their work.

Editing for children’s book is not the same as editing for books for adults.

Trust me, I do both. Consider the editors feedback and make any necessary changes. Stay true to your voice and your story while honoring the tradition of literature and writing quality books.

#10 – Find a children’s book illustrator

This is the most fun part! Your book will now come to life in the hands of someone amazing.

The illustration in your book are extremely important. You have to think about which style you want and find someone who can bring that to life.

Here are a few places you can find a children’s book illustrator:

#10 – Celebrate!

This is huge! These words you’ve been pouring over are about to be read by children!

Take a minute and have a dance party before stepping into book production, including formatting your book and even getting a book cover design.

You did it!

Are you ready to become a published children’s book author?

If you’re ready to finally take this idea you’ve had forever and do something about it, we’ve got just what you need.

Check out this free training to learn which steps you’ll need to take in order to not only self-publish a book, but do it successfully.

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Are you writing a children’s book? What’s it about?

writing space

Writing Spaces: Where to Write & Why it Actually Matters

You know that writers write…but did you know your writing spaces matters significantly?

You’re a writer when you put your pen on your paper and create words that combine together to form a sentence. You’re a writer when you stroke the keyboard and type out an email. You’re a writer when you comment on a Facebook post.

The fact is, you’re a writer whenever and wherever you add anything in writing in a physical or virtual location—but especially if you’re writing a book.

writing spaces

But where should you write? What makes a great writing space? And how do you create one?

Here’s what we’ll cover about your writing space:

  1. Writing spaces at home
  2. Writing spaces outside of the house
  3. Where to write
  4. Utilize at-home writing spaces always
  5. Block out noise with headphones
  6. Set a timer in your writing space
  7. Write in the same place
  8. Writing space tips from famous authors

Read on, my friend.

You’re going to learn about my favorite writing spaces and tools for where to write and creating a writing space.

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

Writing Spaces at Home

Creating a writing space at home is not difficult and can generally be done without spending a lot of money. I am lucky enough to have my own writing office, but even without that, you can still create a space that is just for you and your writing.

Here are a few tips to start building your writing space:

  1. Clear off the corner of your table. (It might mean that you throw away the mountain of mail you’ve been meaning to open or you finally put your laundry away, but a corner of a table will do just fine for this).
  2. Find a paper and pencil, pen and notepad, or a computer.
  3. Put your tools in that space and you’ve built a writing space.
  4. Tell your kids, your significant other, or your cat (although best of luck on training the feline) that this is your space and it is protected in a magical bubble where only you are allowed!

Now, you have a writing space – where you can do what writers do, write.

where to write

If you have a small budget (less than $100) to set up a writing space, you can scour buy, sell, trade groups for small writing desks. My husband found this gem of a writing desk for $75 on a local Facebook swap site.

I use it to journal during my morning routine (don’t forget to check out Chandler’s morning routine video) and outline things with good old-fashioned pen and paper.

Once my brain dumping to my journal is finished, I often transition to a more standardized office desk where I have my computer set up.

So if your budget is a little higher, between $300 – $500, you can buy an office desk from a used furniture store and get a nice desk, with delivery and set-up.

This helps you feel like you’re in more of a work mode and will be able to get things done

writer space

Perhaps you have a grand budget to use. You can go to a higher-end furniture store and buy a cherry or an oak desk for $1000-$2000. But, it is absolutely not necessary.

So, if you have have as little as $0 or as much as $2000+ dollars to spend, you can set up a writing space at home for you to meet your daily writing goals.

Where to Write Outside of Your Home

Anywhere!

Really, anywhere? Sure, you can go anywhere to write. I have some places that I recommend and some places that I would stay away from, but you can write anywhere.

Most writers have a favorite coffee shop. I have three. I love writing at a chain coffee shop when I need a little more background noise. It helps me zone into my rough draft writing and I work well when I am surrounded by others, coffee in hand, and can dedicate my time to writing. There’s also an independent coffee shop that I enjoy going to.

During NaNoWriMo we had some of our write-ins there. I love that it was designed so that at any table there is a spot where we can plug in our devices and type away.

I find this particularly useful when I am needing some motivation from being around other creatives, as there’s also a wall of art that changes frequently.

Finally, I really like a pay-it-forward cafe that has a community table where I can go when I need to concentrate on editing. Sometimes the different niches help me out the most so that I can focus on doing what writers do – write!

Here are some ideas for writing spaces outside our home:

  • The library
  • A museum
  • A park
  • A diner
  • Your backyard
  • Your front or back porch

It will depend on what you’re writing though as to which works the best.

Anywhere that you can go with your notebook, computer, or your phone is a location that you can write.

So, there you have it! You can write anywhere that you can take a writing device.

These are my overall recommended writing spaces:

  1. An area of your home, dedicated to writing
  2. A local coffee shop
  3. A library
  4. A Museum
  5. A park
  6. A shared office
  7. The beach
  8. A friend’s house
  9. A diner
  10. Anywhere that you can take a writing device

Which Online Writing Spaces to Use

On a notebook, a computer, a phone. Anywhere that you can record words and be a writer. Because that’s what a good writer does, you write.

There are many different writing softwares to use for your virtual writing space.

Personally, I prefer to outline, mindmap, prewrite with a good old-fashioned pen and paper. But I know many writers who prefer to do their prewriting in a Google Doc, on Scrivener, Microsoft Office 365 or in a similar space online.

Be sure that no matter where you decide to write that you are free from distractions and that you write.

Once you have your prewriting done, then you can move into creating a first draft.

Google Docs

This is when I generally switch over from pencil and paper to an electronic format. I open up my Google Doc and I make an electronic version of my outline. This is important, because then I can quickly move from place to place in my document.

After I outline on my Google Doc, I move into writing out sentences. At this point, I don’t necessarily worry about whether or not I am writing cohesive sentences, I just get words on the paper, because I am doing what writers do—they write.

As Ray Bradbury says, “Quantity makes up for quality.”

Microsoft Word

If you’re not a Google Docs person, there are other tools out there that you can use to capture your words electronically.

The most well-known is Microsoft Word.

This is great if you always have access to it, which is possible with Office 365, but for me, Google Docs works better.

Scrivener

Scrivener is another tool that you can use to capture all your ideas, outlines, and planning in one place. The best thing about this is that it’s web-based, so you access it anywhere that you have access to the internet. Most writers that use this tool absolutely love it—so let us know if you have it and you love it.

Finally, if you’re driving and have ideas come to you, you can capture them with a speech-to-text app and then transfer them to a word processing document later.

This is particularly useful, as I often have ideas come to me when I am traveling.

Do not let the excuse of “I don’t have a writing space” hold you back from writing, because with very few tools (most are free or minimal cost), you have a writing space or a location to write.

Writing Spaces Tips for Beginners

Setting up a writing space is not always easy, but you know you want to write and you need to have a space to do what writers do: write! S

o here are some tips to help you.

#1 – Use your at-home writing space for writing

where to write

You wouldn’t take a bath in the kitchen sink, right?

Right! Don’t use your writing space for other activities – only use it for writing.

“But I only have one computer – where else do I go to get on Facebook, watch YouTube, or pay my bills?”

I am guessing that if you’re like my family, you have a mobile computer – a laptop, a surface, an iPAD, or something similar. For the purpose of writing at-home, make sure that the device goes to the designated spot you have set up for that.

Then move when you’re not writing.

When we move to specific places to accomplish a task, our brains engage in those tasks and we are able to focus on doing what writers do – write.

#2 – Block out noise with headphones

You will be distracted. If you’re writing at home and have children, your kids will distract you. If you’re writing at a coffee shop, there will be other customers (hey, you want coffee shops to have customers – that’s what keeps them in business and gives you a space to write).

Invest in some headphones. Our brains can process doing other things with music – or white background noise. Create some by tuning into your favorite playlist.

I personally find meditation music especially helpful for this.

#3 – Set a timer

Equip your writing space with a timer. I, personally, usually have enough self-discipline to use my phone as a timer, but I love my Google Home Mini for this too.

Simply say, “Hey Google – Set timer for 25 minutes.” Twenty-five minutes is my magic number to get a lot of words written in a relatively short amount of time.

#4 – Write in the same place, at the same time

Whether you write as a part of your morning writing routine, when you get home from work, or some other time of day, write in the same place at the same time.

That’s why it’s important for you to have some kind of writing space – even if it’s only the corner of the table.

#5 – Write when inspiration hits too

Keep a dedicated writing space, but don’t forget about diving into the spontaneity of writing also.

That’s why I keep my Google Doc app on my phone.

I can make brief notes and then splice them together into coherent sentences later.

Writing Space Tips from Famous Authors

The advice from almost any best-selling author is to always be ready to write – anywhere. You never know where inspiration will hit, so always have something to record your thoughts.

J.K. Rowling also says, “I can write anywhere.”

Jodi Picoult says “I can write anywhere.”

E.B. White, author of Charlotte’s Web, “A writer who waits for ideal conditions under which to work will die without putting a word on paper.”

So don’t wait until you have the perfect space prepared to start writing. Just start writing, because that’s what writers do – write.

Writing Space Tips to Get You Started

Find a device – a laptop, a computer, a phone, a notepad, a notebook, a journal – to record your thoughts. Then do what writers do – write.

Do not wait until you can make your writing area perfect or until inspiration hits to write. Write right now. Because that’s what writers do, they write.

That’s right! All you need for a writing space is a dedicated space to write and the desire to put one word in front of another and you’ve created your writing space, so write on, my friend.

For additional tips on setting up a home office or working from home, be sure to check out How to Successfully Work from Home (Habits, Handling Distractions, And The Ultimate Office Setup video created by Chandler Bolt.

Are You Ready to Get Started Today?

Publishing your book is SO CLOSE.

If you’r ready to get started, check out this free training to help you write, market, and publish your book within 90 days!

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What are some of your secrets for setting up a writing space? Drop them down below so we can all benefit from them!

self editing a book

Self-Editing: How to Self-Edit a Book With Specific Strategies for Success

So you’ve finished your book… now what? Self-editing is what. Now it’s time to learn how to self-edit it—and properly.

Finishing the first draft of a book is a tremendous accomplishment that’s certainly worth celebrating. But it doesn’t get any easier from here.

The next step is one of the most tedious and important aspects of publishing a book—self-editing.

self editing

Sure, almost all self-published authors will hire an editor in some capacity. Before that step, you do have to edit the book yourself.

Here’s our guide to self-editing your novel:

  1. Understand the need for self-editing
  2. Difference between revising and editing
  3. How to develop a self-editing plan
  4. Start the self-edit process
  5. Different types of verbal read-throughs
  6. Discover your self-editing style
  7. Edit one chapter at a time
  8. Start self-editing TODAY

At the very least, every author will receive feedback from multiple readers before the launch date, but self-editing is key because eliminating obvious errors and minimizing mistakes in the manuscript will give hired editors and beta readers a greater opportunity to provide corrections on the things you missed.

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

Why do we need to self-edit our books?

After completing a rough draft, it’s very tempting to immediately hire an editor and hand over your manuscript. But no writer can state their rough draft is the very best of their work.

And after all, the better the draft you submit to an editor, the better final product.

An editor will surely help improve a manuscript, but before placing that rough draft in an editor’s hands, each writer should be able to answer yes to the question:

“Did I make this manuscript as strong and as good as I could have?”

There’s no way the answer to that question is yes after only writing the rough draft. Take pride in your work and make sure it’s your best before someone else reads it.

Before beginning the self-editing phase, there are three important things to keep in mind:

  1. The Difference between editing and revising
  2. Self-editing requires patience because it takes time
  3. Devise an editor plan for after the self-editing phase prior to starting

The Difference Between Editing and Revising

Editing and Revising sound very similar, but knowing the subtle differences can make self-editing a lot easier.

Throughout my career, I’ve engaged in a lot of different writing styles. Depending on the outlet and audience, writing style may differ, but one constant is all writing needs edited and revised in some capacity.

Of course, one of the most essential parts of the self-editing phase is knowing the difference between editing and revising. I’ll lay out the subtle difference and explain how to achieve both in order to turn your rough draft into a sparkling text for your editor.

Editing and Revising definitions according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary

Editing – to prepare for publication or public presentation; to alter, adapt, or refine especially to bring about conformity to a standard or to suit a particular purpose.

Revising – to look over again in order to correct or improve; to make a new, amended, improved, or up-to-date version of

On the surface, they sound exactly the same. To be fair, editing and revising are similar, but not exactly the same thing.

In a basic nutshell, editing is fixing basic errors like capitalization, punctuation and spelling. Revising is the act of improving specific writing such as sentence structure, chapter structure and word choice.

A good self-edit will include both edits and revisions to a manuscript.

Develop Your Self-Edit Plan

Before getting started with self-editing, though, keep in mind that Self-Publishing School advises not to wait, but to reach out and/or hire an editor after you finish your manuscript. Performing that task upon completing the rough draft will allow the author to hand over their manuscript right after finishing the self-editing phase.

Editors are often booked two weeks in advance. Waiting to reach out to editors until after the self-edit could mean there’s no movement on your book for at least a couple weeks.

Now you’re ready to begin.

How to Start Self-Editing

The self-editing phase will include re-reading your book at least three times. Self-Publishing School calls them verbal read-throughs. With each one, you will be looking to address different aspects of your writing.

In the self-edit of my own first book, I devised three different types of read-throughs.

The three different types of verbal read-throughs in self-editing:

  1. Reading for structure
  2. Reading for readability
  3. Reading for grammar and word choice

Each read-through during self-editing should be done out loud.

Verbal Read-Throughs for Self-Editing

Self-Publishing School teaches to read your manuscript out loud to yourself. I couldn’t agree more. It may seem a little silly, but it’s much easier to find errors while reading the entire book out loud than silently.

Find a quiet spot alone so you can read out loud.

Following my three different types of read-throughs and reading them out loud will enable you to make your book as good as you can.

#1 – Read for Structure

Remember that great mind map and book outline you constructed before even beginning to write the rough draft? It’s time to break those back out.

As you begin to re-read your manuscript chapter-by-chapter, follow along with your outline as well. This will allow you to make sure every detail is in the right place and nothing is missing.

This is how you can structure your self-edits for chapters:

Those chapters on your outline and in your book should all have a clear and concise topic. In some ways, one could think of the individual chapters as their own little books. Each one connects to the others, but they can also stand alone.

Double checking chapter structure is the first real key to self-editing.

One personal example of how revising chapter structure helped my book:

In my own rough draft, the first chapter of my book, His World Never Dies: The Evolution of James Bond, explored the popularity of the Bond film series and how the series’ portrayal of masculinity has changed over the years.

self editing process

When I devised my outline, it seemed natural that these two topics were tied together since Bond’s masculinity is why so many men and women have enjoyed the series over the last six decades.

But I had two problems: the chapter was more than 4,500 words while the other nine chapters in my book were all around 3,000. Even worse, the first chapter bounced between these two ideas that I thought were connected—Bond’s popularity and masculinity.

Upon my read-through, the chapter felt clunky and long. If readers shared the same sentiment, they might not continue to read the rest of the book.

In self-editing, make sure each chapter has one clear and concise topic.

Revisions were needed. It took a lot of work, but I divided the first chapter into two — one that focused on the series’ popularity and the other on Bond’s masculinity. After I made this decision, I read through the entire chapter again, picking out which paragraphs applied to which specific topic.

Following that step, the two new chapters were too short, which meant both needed more words. I had more writing to do.

But by dividing the chapter, rearranging the paragraphs and adding more details, I had made some very strong revisions.

I now possessed two chapters that started my book on the right track — with each chapter standing alone and focused on one topic.

This is how to go through self-editing for sentence structure & transitions:

Double checking sentence structure is the second important part of step one in self-editing.

How each book idea flows to the next is the second aspect to consider during the “structure” read-through. The use of transition words and phrases—next, then, furthermore, on the other hand, etc.—can be very helpful to achieve this.

But the same concepts to ensuring chapter structure should be applied to sentence structure. Make sure to complete your entire thought on one subject before jumping to the next whether from chapter to chapter or inside a chapter.

Proper transitions and book flow will allow readers to keep going naturally. It could prevent them from ever putting it down!

#2 – Read for Readability

It’s very likely that you know your book topic better than anyone who reads your book. That’s especially true if you are writing a memoir, but that will likely also be the case with a self-help book or non-fiction commentary on something such as the James Bond film series.

After double checking the structure of your book, the second read-through should ensure every chapter, every paragraph, every sentence and even every word makes sense.

Ask yourself these questions when editing for vague details or over-explained thoughts:

  • Did I gloss over any details that a beginner to my topic might not know?
  • Did I forget a vital detail to a personal story in my memoir?
  • Does it feel like I’m bogging down my reader with unnecessary details not important to my overall point?

Keep these questions in mind during the second read-through of the self-editing stage.

how to self edit

In the second read-through, place yourself in the mind of your reader.

For my book, I needed to ensure every scene of a Bond film I explain was properly detailed to my audience. I have seen the Bond movies dozens of times, but not every reader will have, so it was important to make sure even readers who haven’t seen the films can understand what’s going on in a particular scene.

Here’s how to self-edit awkward phrasing:

In this step, authors should also be able to find awkward phrasing. This is the biggest reason why we advise reading your manuscript out loud. Sentences that don’t make sense or that need to be reworded will stick out when spoken in voice rather than read silently.

#3 – Read for Grammar and Word Choice

As you may have guessed, the first two read-through steps are making revisions to your manuscript. In this last step, authors will be performing both edits and revisions.

Once you’ve nailed down your book’s structure and readability, you’re now ready to double check grammar, spelling, capitalization and punctuation.

It’s important to leave grammar until the last step of the self-editing phase. Otherwise, you will need to repeat this step after revisions are complete.

Double checking word choice was vitally important in my own self-editing.

I tend to repeat the same words without even realizing. In my first rough draft, I had the same transition word used multiple times on the same page or the same verb or adjective deployed on numerous occasions in the same chapter.

Get out a thesaurus and utilize different words where applicable—just be sure these words actually make sense (as we all know thesauruses can’t always be trusted).

This doesn’t mean change every noun to a fancier word in attempt to sound smart. Nobody likes a smart ass. But avoiding repeated words while expanding your vocabulary in a colloquial way is the last step in self-editing.

Other tips for self-edit read-throughs:

  1. Find a style that works
  2. Try re-reading only a chapter at a time & the whole book together
  3. Again, read the manuscript out loud

That’s the end of the actually steps needed to complete the self-editing phase, but there’s more to it than just simply reading through the manuscript and making alterations.

Find a Self-Edit Style That Works for YOU

Are you more of a paper and pen person or do you love using track changes on writing software like Microsoft Word or Google Docs?

There is no right or wrong, but finding your best preference and consistently repeating it through each read-through is essentially.

Personally, I loved the good, old-fashioned pen and paper for my self-editing. I find it easier to read out loud from a paper than a screen. It also allowed me to easily keep track of all my edits and revisions with a pen.

You can do the same, though, with track changes like in the example below.

how to self edit

Printing out your manuscript and/or working with track changes is essential to the self-editing phase.

After each read-through, make the changes in your official manuscript, so they are present for the next read-through. Then repeat the process.

For all the read-throughs, I would print out a new copy of my book.

NOTE: To save paper, reprint on the back of the previous manuscript.

Self-Edit One Chapter at a Time

Most self-published authors have other jobs. If not, they still likely have very busy lives because everyone does. That probably makes performing an entire read-through for the whole book in one sitting very unlikely.

However, there are advantages to self-editing the whole book in one read-through during a single day.

Pros to read-throughs in one sitting:

  1. Easier to receive entire picture
  2. Repeated phrases and words can be more apparent
  3. Reading it as the fans would

Reading the entire manuscript together for chapter and sentence structure is a good idea because it’s easier to get the entire picture of how the book fits together.

It’s also easier to pick out repeated phrases and words. If you wait several days between reading the first and final chapter for structure, you may not realize you repeat yourself too much or that you have the exact same sentence in two places.

The readers that never put your book down may experience it in an entirely different way than you did if you never performed an entire book read-through in one sitting.

Cons to read-throughs in one sitting:

  1. General tiredness
  2. Grammar and spelling edits may suffer
  3. Threat of rushing through it
self editing

There are plenty of advantages to only re-reading a chapter at a time as well. For one, going through an entire read-through in one sitting can take hours and is very tiring. In the last few chapters, you might not be as sharp at catching errors as you were at the beginning of the process because of fatigue.

All self-editing can be tedious, but checking for grammar, spelling and punctuation is particularly banal. It’s even harder when tired.

Furthermore, if the goal is to get through the entire book with one read-through in one sitting, but you only have a set amount of time to do it, there’s a distinct possibility that you will rush. That’s not a good thing either.

TIP: Try both techniques to see which self-editing works for you.


The one-sitting read-through is better suited for when checking for structure. It’s better to read one chapter at a time while editing for grammar and spelling.

If your book is truly too long for a read-through in one sitting, then don’t worry about it. More than likely, that means readers won’t be reading it all the way through at a time either.

Are you ready to start your self-editing TODAY?

Again, the self-editing stage is one of the most mundane aspects of publishing a book. At times, it can be flat-out exhausting with no end in sight. It’s very tempting to just give up and hand the manuscript to an editor.

But before editor begins their work on your manuscript, self-editing can take your book to the next level. A full commitment in this stage can make all the difference in the quality of your manuscript.

If you’re ready to start (finish) and publish your book, check out this free training by Chandler Bolt!

Join Chandler Bolt at his FREE Webinar Training as he reveals the exact tactics and strategies he used to write and publish 6 bestselling books in a row – and how he used them to build a 7-figure business in less than 2 years!

Spots are limited!

Click Here to Save Your Spot

What are some of the best self-editing tips you’ve seen or heard? Drop them down below so we can all benefit from them!