Updated: Oct 5, 2018
Writing your first book can be a hell you didn't know existed, if you don't know what you are doing. I used to be that person, and it took me a good fourteen years to work out many of the kinks, problems, and common mistakes that first-time writers make when attempting to arrange words in a way that make sense, entertain bibliophiles, and are worthy of being professionally glued between two sheets of pretty cardboard and forced on unsuspecting friends and relatives. Now, I'm not saying that I no longer make grammatical errors (I'm looking at YOU, oh hyphen that I tend to use waaaaaay too much, often incorrectly), but what I am telling you is that writing your first book doesn't have to be as tough for you as it was for me. You may even get to keep most of your hair.
Writing a book involves more than, well, writing. Much more. In this article, I will guide you through the first three steps of writing and selling your first book, most of which don't involve actual writing! Hold onto your keyboard now, because it might start to melt---mine already is.
Step 1: START A BLOG
There's a reason I put that in all caps:
1. So you can easily spot it later for reviewing the steps quickly.
2. Because it's darn important!
Now, now----------- I know the thought of blogging can be overwhelming, as well as possess the potential to induce a migraine, but please hear me out, preferably without any distractions. For those of you who already run a blog (or a vlog in some instances), you probably already know that doing it has some real benefits. Here are some really good reasons why you, as an author, need to blog:
1. Writing practice: I don't care if you're Stephen King and write at least 2000 words per day----ALL writers, even the super-experienced ones, must hone their craft regularly to maintain and improve the quality of their writing. Think about the last time that you did something that you hadn't done in awhile. It felt awkward, right? At least until you became acclimated to it once again. Writing is the same way. Exercise your writing skills every day to stay in shape and keep writing second nature.
2. If you put out quality content, you gain followers. If people like you, they'll buy anything you have for sale, including books! Yes, I know this sounds as shallow as your toddler's kiddie pool, but it's a fact of the business world, and writing is a business. So, get out there and start interacting with the world, build that e-mail list, and grow your sales. E-mail reaches more people than almost any other medium, which is why successful bloggers recommend it.
Step 2: CREATE YOUR AUTHOR WEBSITE
Now that you've created a blog and gained a few followers, it's time to make your website. Unless, of course, your blog IS on your website, which should make this step a lot easier.
Your site should include the following:
-A short biography of you, and at least one photograph.
-Your contact info (name, e-mail, and links to your social media pages), but not your address. Yes, you must provide links, as most people are just too lazy to try to find you on their own. Make it easy for people to find you.
-Your written books, preferably with clickable images of their covers that take clickers where they can read or purchase them. If you don't have any books finished, links to online posts by you are a good start.
If you've never built a website before, there are many free online sitebuilders out there that can help, such as WIX. That's the one I used. Having never before built a website, I actually found it to be quite easy. However, once you've created a site you like, don't buy the domain name right away. Give the site a name you like (which should be your name so you will be easier to find in Google Search), see if it "fits," and if it works for you, buy the domain name and you will own it. For example, you can find me at www.andriaredlin.com
Step 3: FORM or JOIN an ONLINE WRITING GROUP
Yes, it's just one more thing to do on our path to financial success as an author, but you want to quit that day job, don't you? No one ever said that being a successful writer was going to be effortless, but you'd be amazed at what a bit of perserverance can do.
So...the writing group. Ugh. Yes, I heard your snarl of irritation from here. Believe me, I GET it. All the things we have to do these days to make it as a paid writer really suck. I really don't think Jane Austen or Laura Ingalls Wilder had this problem, but since WE do, we must deal with it. We must join writers groups and-----gasp-----interact with other writers! Shocker! I'll make this easy for you and invite you to mine: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1217739964932231/ Keep in mind that you don't just have to join one. I recommend no more than five, but it's truly up to you.
Here are some of the benefits of joining a writing group, online and otherwise:
-Feedback, feedback, feedback. Did I mention how valuable feedback is? How are you supposed to know what your skill level is as a writer if you don't let anyone see your work? Perhaps you've been wanting to write prose your whole life, but your real talent shines in poetry. Groups can help you see things like this that remain hidden to you.
-Interaction with writers in your chosen genre. If you write fantasy, there's a group out there with your name on it, especially if you happen to have created the group yourself.
-Access to opportunities you never had before. Perhaps there's going to be an author convention in your area, and the only way you would have found out about it was because of the group news.
Motivation. Groups keep you motivated to write, mostly because of the cheap but effective thing called peer pressure. If HappyWriter78 has loudly proclaimed a daily writing goal of 700 words, others tend to get competitive and try for 1000. If FantasyFred1965 announces the launch of a writing contest for your group, you have a REASON to hit that keyboard with everything you have, and I don't mean with a sledgehammer. What motivates you to write? Ask yourself this. Seriously.
And so ends Part 1 of How To Write A Book. Please do check out the next installment, where I will actually get into the mechanics of writing that thing that you want to see so badly on your bookshelf. Ta-ta til then!
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