“Becoming an author is easy. You write a story, send it to a publisher, and boom! You’re an author,” said my seventh-grade self.
I was eleven when I decided on writing as a career. I began many stories and didn’t finish them. I was waiting to create the book, the ultimate masterpiece, that I will send to a company and become famous. This misconception stayed with me for years until I left high school and became serious about my career. I researched the field and was stunned by how much I didn’t know.
“What are these beta readers everyone’s talking about? How many rounds of edits do you need? What’s an author platform? Do you need one? Is self-publishing better than traditional publishing? How do you query agents? What’s this? How do you do that? Is that needed?”
There’s only one thing to do when you are confused: Educate yourself. I learned the process of book publishing, from the book brainstorm to its release and all of the foggy parts in the middle.
The 5 Steps of Writing a Book
Truth be told, every writer’s process is different. Some rush through their first draft and spend years revising, while other prefer to edit as they write. Some outline every detail of their story before beginning while other invent the story as they go along. It’s important to be aware of your own process. There’s no wrong way to create a book unless the method is a hindrance to you.
With that in mind, here’s an outline of how to create a book.
- This is the brainstorming stage. You might have notebooks of ideas or you may be an empty slate, waiting for inspiration to strike. Let your imagination run free as you go about your daily routine. You can’t force ideas; just keep yourself open so they can come to you.
- Once you have an idea, build on it. There are many ways to accomplish this. You can write lists of words flowing through your mind, diagrams of characters, freewriting, whichever works best for you. The point is to get the idea out of your head and onto paper.
- It’s not over yet. Now is the time to look at the ideas and decide what is good and what isn’t. Put them in chronological order and see if any piece of the story is missing. Develop the characters and the world. Write out these findings; these pages will be a godsend when you get writer’s block during drafting.
- The writing stage is comprised of the first draft only. This is not the final story and should not be perfect. Most acclaimed authors think their first drafts are garbage until they polish it up in the revising stage. So forget about word count, grammar, and don’t be a stickler for your outline. The crucial purpose of this stage is to get all of the ideas into a semi-cohesive story.
- This is where the book begins to take shape. While still ignoring the grammar and wording of the manuscript, look at the work as a whole. Fix any plot holes and character inconsistencies. Write more in places where information is lacking. Delete passages that do not contribute to the story. Check the pacing and consider rearranging sections or chapters of the book for better storytelling.
- Once you have finished revising on your own, enlist readers or fellow writers to read and critique your work. They will inform you about plot holes and inconsistencies you have missed.
Once the story is perfected, it’s time to focus on the writing. Read the manuscript line by line and fix grammar, punctuation, spelling, repetition, and clarity issues. Even if you are a skilled copyeditor, it is strongly recommended to hire an editor, especially if you are self-publishing. It’s hard to notice mistakes in your own work, even if you are a pro when it comes to other’s manuscripts. Don’t skip this step; you will lose your audience with careless errors.
At this point, the writing part ends and the technicalities begin. To be a successful author, you’ve got to know business. Sorry if you missed that memo.
To choose traditional or self-publishing, do research into each field and decide which one works best for your career. Neither approach guarantees success. If you’re a debut author, the publishing company isn’t going to give you much attention publicity-wise. In both cases, an audience won’t give you much attention either. You will still need to create an author platform and market your book.
The best time to begin building an author platform is before the book is finished. Contrast you entering the online writing community and slowly building a following while hyping up your audience about your upcoming book, as opposed to popping onto social media one day and posting, “Hey peeps! I wrote a book so buy it.”
Two easy ways to start an author platform:
- Create an author website.
- Be active on social media.
The Internet has made marketing accessible and brought authors closer to their readers. Unfortunately, the web is saturated with self-marketing creators, so be sure that your platform is professional and reflects your distinct voice and personality.
The Bottom Line
There’s a lot more to be said about each of these sections of the writing process, but this is the basic outline. (Be on the lookout for future posts about each stage) Whether you are an old pro or a novice, the book industry is constantly changing. It’s crucial to stay updated on trends and shifts in the market. Between the Internet and libraries, information is at your fingertips, waiting to help you on your writing journey.
Writing a book is difficult, but it doesn’t need to be complicated.
Which part of the writing process are you up to? Comment below!
Now go write!