Four Things You Should Do Before You Write A Book
Whether you’re writing a non-fiction book, a novel or a collection of essays, here are four things I advise you to do, before you start the process of actually writing. The first is something that most indie authors do last, and the second is something that most wouldn’t even consider.
Write your blurb or book description
The writers I coach are always surprised when I suggest they do this first, but writing a blurb is a great way to get laser focused on what you want to achieve with this book. The blurb is traditionally printed on the back of your paperback book, of course, but even if you’re only planning to produce an eBook version of your book, you’ll still need a book description, or sales page, to post on Amazon and other online retail site. A great (and accurate) book description is a vital key to selling more Kindle books.
Your blurb (or description) should sell your book, and let readers know what to expect. With a non-fiction book you’ll need to highlight what the benefits of reading are: what the reader will learn, or the insights they’ll walk away with. With a novel you’ll want to set up your characters and their situation, and hint at the problems they’ll face.
Write your ideal review
People are even more surprised by this, but I find it really inspiring, especially when I get stuck. Put yourself in the shoes of someone you has just finished reading your book. What would you want them to say in a review? How do you want them to feel? What do you want them to have learned? Who do you want them to recommend the book to? What are they planning to read next? Are they looking forward to a sequel or another book from you? Do they want to go to your blog and find out more about your background, or why you wrote the book, or what the story was based on? Are they perhaps planning on suggesting your book to their book club?
Keeping this review to hand as you write will help you keep in mind what your goals are. Not just your goals in terms of the story itself, but exactly how you want to connect with and impact your readers. Non-fiction writers will also find that the review keeps them mindful of what they want to ‘teach’, explain or communicate to readers. With non-fiction, your review can include the ‘key takeaways’ you want your reader to find in the book. Make sure they’re all in there, preferably more than once.
Outline your book
This is a more common, and conventional, step. Some writers are complete ‘pantsters’ but most do at least a little planning. This can be basic (just chapter headings, especially with a non-fiction book) or more detailed, with the basic action and plot points all in place for each chapter of a novel. Starting with no outline or plan is a major reason why many new authors ‘get stuck’ and ultimately fail to complete their books.
Think about marketing
Marketing your book is every bit as important as writing it, and thinking about marketing opportunities before (and as) you write your book will save time and effort when it comes to actually launching it and selling as many copies as possible. Some activities that will eventually help you with marketing may provide a useful contrast to writing your book, and even help you make money while completing the book writing process. A vital marketing activity you may want to consider at this stage is simply connecting with your ideal audience. This can be done by posting relevant content (that’s content that’s related to your book’s topic or genre, and/or of interest to your target readers) in places like:
- Facebook groups
- Other social media channels
- Your blog or website
- An open access site like Medium or Quora
- Goodreads and other sites aimed at book lovers
- A regular newsletter you build through your blog
- Other blogs aimed at your audience (through guest posting)
- Other publications aimed at your audience (through freelancing)
Don’t forget that when you guest post or freelance, you’re aiming to get readers onto your email list, so make sure you get that set up first. Then you’ll have a list of readers (within your target audience) to mail when your book is ready to launch.
So now you’re all set to write your next book, how about writing it chapter by chapter, in public? Shaunta Grimes, of Ninja Writers Academy is running a Blog-Your-Own-Book challenge where we’ll all be attempting to write our next book together, and posting chapters as we go along. It certainly won’t suit every author, but it might suit you. There’s a FAQ about the challenge here, and there’s no fee or anything. It’s just a fun summer project we can all get in on.
Want to make more money from your writing? Grab my list of freelance markets that pay writers.
Want to read books about writing and publishing? Check out the books for writers section of my Amazon store.