Friday, 12 August 2016

A Short Guide: How to Write a Book & Promote it

A Short Guide:
How to Write a Book
& Promote it

 Getting Started

Many say we all have a book inside us. Personally, I agree. The book may be fiction or nonfiction and on vast array of topics or genres. 

In order to accomplish such a task; all you have to do is read up on the subject, plan and begin at the beginning.

1. Have an Idea 

Creativity is the number one tool in any author's arsenal. Choose to embrace that story lurking at the edges of your mind. 

You may not know who, what, when, where or why. But of course, that's what an outline is for.

2. Choose your Genre. Know Your Audience

Yes, we all want to write an audience crossing sensation like Harry Potter. The truth is, I hope you do. 

However, in order to target your readership, you have to identify it first. This leads to choosing your genre. Identifying your audience and genre will also keep you focused on plot and character style.

Readers like consistency. Just write a good story. If it's good; your audience will naturally branch out.

3. Chooses a Place to Write

Writing can be a long and arduous job. So choose a setting you feel comfortable in and is as quiet or as loud as you need it to be. 

Mind you, occasionally changing your environment may be just what you need to shake up your creative juices.

4. Make a Word Count Goal

This is about keeping you accountable. No one makes you write, just you. 

This could be a daily or weekly goal. Dreaming only makes you start a book; it certainly doesn't finish it.

Have goals.

Stick to 

5. Plan When you Write

Again, it's about accountability. Having a routine not only gets things done; but also makes your tasks become second nature.

6. Make Bookmark Folders

I personally do this. I make folders which hold blogs, email lists, social media, etc. This makes them easily accessible and quick to find.

7. Control Distractions

What are your distractions? Mine?

Social media, of course.

Figure out what makes you time suck and make a plan. I promote my book, read/answer emails, read blogs, first thing in the morning.

8. Write it all Down

Whether it's digitally or on hard copy; write it all down.

Write down your goals. Write down your deadlines. Use calendars and notes.

Check them off when you're done and create new ones as you go.

Put them in your laptop. Hang them on your fridge.

Just ensure they are accessible and visible.

9. Build a Media Platform

Start promoting your author brand now. It doesn't matter if you've begun writing or not. Start a blog and create social media accounts.

Get your name out there.

10. Choose

Choose to be a writer. Choose to be one of the few who actually write a book. Some have to only choose once. Some have to make this choice every day. 

Some have to make this choice every 5 minutes (this was me).

Make this conscious decision whenever you need to. Don't be embarrassed. No one can see into your mind but you.

Will power is aptly named. This is because that's what it takes.


And if it was easy; everyone would do it.

Start by just acknowledging who you are. You are a writer. Yes, say it out loud.

You may not be a pro yet. You don't have to be.

Just start acting like 

Creating an Outline

Are you a pantser or a plotter? You know what I mean. Do you meticulously plan every aspect of your book? Or do you write by the seat of your pants?

Every outline is different. Some writers require a more detailed outline. Others barely need a skeleton of one before creating their book.

Writing is part talent, part planning and part intuition. I recommend trying an outline out. You'll figure how much and how little you need as you go.

1. The Idea

Write down the basic premise of your novel in 1-2 sentences.

2. Brainstorm

Don't question your ideas. Just write them down as they come to you. Get creative.

  • What is the overall conflict/goal?
  • What are the obstacles to these goals?
  • What are the protagonist's objective/desires?
  • What choices/tasks must the protagonist make to meet this objective?
  • Write a list of ideas for the story
  • Write a list of possible side conflicts/hurdles to spread throughout your story.
  • Roughly sketch out the ending.

3. POV

Here you have to decide whether the narrator or a character will tell the tale.

4. Setting

Where is your story going to take place? When? Setting and time play a big part in mood and may have a hand in your plot's direction.

5. Finalized Outline
  • Take final ideas and create a structure; going scene by scene. 
  • Put in chronological order.
  • Ensure each scene contains conflict, character development and is always moving toward the main objective.
  • Ensure each scene/dialogue adds to the overall plot.
  • Look for lapses in logic.

6. Character Outline

Create an extensive outline for your protagonist and antagonist. Of course, don't leave out your other characters. Even the smallest role can leave a lasting impression on the reader.
  • Name
  • Age
  • Physical appearance
  • Background story
  • Mannerisms
  • Speech patterns
  • Flaws
  • Qualities
  • Quirks
  • Intelligence level
  • Are they emotional or logical thinkers?
  • Are they an extravert or an introvert?
  • What are their personal goals/conflicts?
  • What are their relationships with: family, fellow characters, antagonist, etc?

7. Research

Research can add that extra layer to your story. Historical, geographical, scientific and other details will give your plot believability. 

Research can also affect the direction of your plot. I know this from personal experience.

If your reader is unable to become immersed in your tale; what is the point of telling it?

Know what you're talking 

Writing the First Draft

Writing the first draft is an exhilarating and at the same time, frustrating experience. Be as prepared as you can be and most of all; take a deep breath and just do it.

1. Purpose

Know what the core message and goal of the story is. Everything you write about will be moving toward these ideas.

2. Language

Don't stress out about language. Focus on the concept and not how it's written. Writing the first draft is probably only 1/3 of the overall process.

So don't sweat it. It's all in the editing. When you're in the zone, just go with it.

3. Make Sure Your Plot is Tight

  • Characters are profiled and have interesting back stories.
  • Break down the story into scenes.
  • Ensure there is tension, story/character development and movement to your main goal in every scene.
  • Remember don't worry about language. Focus on your idea.

4. Voice

Find your voice. Mind you, it'll be refined in the editing phase. However, discover your writing style. We all have one. Be yourself.

5. World Building

Whether your books takes place in a land that only exists in your imagination or Brooklyn, NY; create a world that is nothing short of real in the reader's mind.

This is most important if you're creating a fantasy world. We all have an idea of what Brooklyn looks like; so a detailed dialogue about it could get tedious.

However, when introducing something new; give the reader details of the setting's culture, history, language, etc. Make it come alive and appeal to the reader's empirical senses.

Of course, be careful. Know when to draw the line. There can always be too much detail. If this information gets in the way of the plot; cut it down.

6. Mood

Identify your mood or moods and be consistent. If you're writing an adventure with a side dish of humor; make sure that humor is dribbled throughout the story. Be balanced.

7. Take Notes

Remember, think like a reader. Question everything. Did you leave a question unanswered? Does everything make sense?

As you discover these lapses in logic, write them down. Jot down these ideas as you go. Write how and where in the story you are going to fix them.

Don't Forget…

Again, everything will be refined and expanded during the revision/editing stage. Just get your ideas down on paper.

Best advice I can give you is to just keep writing. Don't wait for inspiration. Do it. Do it daily. Do it until the climactic end.

....Oh, yeah. Lastly, the solo fist pump. It's ok, no one will be 

Proofreading & Revision

Revision and proofreading is the writing phase in which you improve on the ideas, style, language and organization of your book. It is here when these elements may be altered, added or deleted completely.

How and when you revise your novel depends on your writing style. Many authors complete the process as they write. Others let it all out in their first draft; then revise it when they're done.

Either way, revise and edit until your document reads smoothly and there are no holes or lapses in logic.

So when you have completed your first draft, take a break. Wait a few weeks then tackle the arduous job of editing.

Tips on Revising Your Book:

Read your book:
1. Read it aloud.
2. Read it Backwards.
3. Read it on printed paper.

  • Get other people to read it for you. Listen and learn from their feedback.
  • Look for lapses in logic/holes in your story/plausibility/consistency.
  • Take out anything not related to the core message of your book.
  • Be consistent with mood and genre. Look for areas that need more: humor, action, etc.
  • Consider alternate routes your plot can take and see if they work. 
  • Keep track of plot and smaller details. The reader will remember if you deviate.
  • Make sure there is tension/conflict/resolution throughout your story.
  • Dialogue should be natural and not necessarily grammatically correct. Their speech should reflect their character.
  • Avoid clich├ęs.
  • Ensure your characters have completed their objectives.
  • Replace weak words with stronger ones.
  • Ensure character development progresses smoothly throughout the story.
  • Take notes as you write. 

Tips on Proofreading Your Book:

  • After you feel that you have revised your novel sufficiently; it is time to check it for grammar and spelling errors.
  • Take a long break before you begin.
  • Always run spell check first to catch the obvious errors.
  • Try reading your manuscript backwards and on a hard copy. 
  • Pronounce each word slowly as you read.
  • Capitals- beginning of sentence.
  • Periods- end of a sentence.
  • Comma and question marks where applicable.
  • Don't overuse the exclamation mark.
  • Avoid the word 'that' and take it out of the dialogue unless truly necessary. People don't use 'that' often.
  • Watch the spellchecker: eg. definitely may be changed to defiantly or may not correct it all.
  • Watch for irregularities in font.
  • Use 12 size font and New Times Roman.
  • Look for missing prepositions, but also watch for over using them.
  • Avoid verbs ending in -ly.
  • Two digit numbers should be written as words.
  • If you think a sentence is too long, be safe and make it two sentences.
  • Watch for word confusion: to/too, their/they're.
Don't forget to check your book's blurb and cover. Along with title pages, headers and footers.

If you are unsure about a word and/or structure; look up the applicable spelling and grammar rules.
Ensure your book is formatted correctly. 

Hiring Out

I am an advocate for hiring professional editors. However, as we all know, this can be very costly. Proofreading/copy editing can range from $25-$40/hr. Story editing usually ranges from $60-$80/hr. And sometimes more.

Regardless, it's worth the price. Professionals can add a polish that will give your book the edge it needs in today's competitive market.

Doing it Yourself

Whether you hire out or do it yourself; every writer should use beta readers. However, if hiring out others is impossible at the moment; the beta reader is necessary. 

A good beta reader will critique your work and their feedback will prove to be invaluable.

Characteristics of Good Beta Readers:

  • They are readers.
  • Pick someone who already likes your genre and the age group you wrote for.
  • They are objective. 
  • They understand that just because they don't like something, it doesn't mean someone else won’t.
  • Opinionated with tact.
  • They don't focus on typos and such. The issue is the plot, character, etc.
  • Remember: I know we all use friends and family in the beginning, but get out there and find someone who you don't know. You can join local writers groups, workshops, look on twitter, writers blogs and there are loads of specific groups on social media. And when you find a good one, keep them.

Even if you think you've found all errors and made all the necessary changes; both the proofreading and revision process should be completed a minimum of four times.


Read everything you can about editing. The web is full of useful information you can apply to this stage in the writing 

Book Promotion

Start promoting right now. Promoting yourself doesn't begin after you write your book. In fact, it is optimal to begin building your brand before you even write the first word. By building your brand, I mean promoting you.

Your author's name is your brand.

However, we all can't possess this foresight. So if you haven't yet begun building a platform; start now.

1. Social Media


  • Create a fan page. 
  • Send it out into the world and ask them to like the page and if they would be so kind as to share it. 
  • Don't spam your friends and family. Be social, periodically talk about your book and share your blog post when you publish it. 

  • Create your account and right away start following people who are like minded- professionally and personally.
  • Tweet every day (it takes only minutes of your time)
  • Don't focus on telling everyone about your book. It's annoying. Focus on the people out there like you, the people who want to be heard and found. In other words, re-tweet.
  • If sending out your own tweet makes you nervous, make one tweet a day your goal. It could be about anything.
  • Create an 'Author List.' This keeps all your fellow authors on one list and easier to re-tweet.
  • Put your books link in your 'about' paragraph.
  • Remember: Think about others. I know this sounds insincere. When I started, I had no idea what I was doing. But when I saw all those people just like me, I didn't re-tweet because I should; I did it because I wanted to. 

  • I love Google+ because I can build a contact list that doesn't include my friends and family. This is my professional platform. 
  • Right after you sign up you can choose from a huge list of people to follow to get you started.
  • Take a few minutes a day to read people's posts and leave comments where applicable. 
  • Be balanced in your posts. Of course, you want to promote yourself. But remember, it's not all about you. Yes, put out your own content; but don't forget to promote others.

As Seth Godin says; it's not about selling a product anymore. It's about selling a story. So get personal. Share your opinions, ask questions and request feedback.

Although you don't want to under post, avoid over posting. For example, posting 10 times in a row. We've all seen it.

Of course, there are many more social sites. However, I recommend starting out small. Then research other social media out there and experiment with what works for you.

Build a Blog/Vlog
  • Having a blog is a great hub for you promotion platform. There are great free ones out there like Blogger or Wordpress. 
  • As you browse the net, jot down ideas for blogs as you go.
  • Ideas can stem from concepts in your book, to what you learned about writing throughout your journey. It's up to you. But be sure to create your own niche.
  • Blog at least once a week and have a months worth ready to go in your draft list.
  • When you publish a post make sure you share it with your other social media platforms.
  • Read other blogs. Leave comments and start building relationships and getting seen.
  • Build an email list. 
  • Remember: It's overwhelming at first. Don't' think you have to be as good as the best blogs out there. There's only one you. I know what you're thinking, 'What I want to say has already been said.' We're dealing with the internet, this is probably true. But no one can say it the way you're going to say it. 


  • Make a book trailer and put it on social media and other accounts.
  • Make videos of you reading your book.
  • I know this sounds like a lot of work. Just do it. You're done and they're out there. 

2. Blog Tours

Blog tours are an inexpensive way to promote your book. There are many tour sites that use book bloggers to promote you and your book.

3. Guest Posting

You've written a book and have undoubtedly learned a lot. Take this new knowledge and write it down. Reach out to blogs, websites and eZines about guest posting.

There are also many bloggers who feature author interviews, book reviews and other promotional posts. All you have to do is a little research and work up the courage to ask.

5. Make a Book Trailer

6. Create an Amazon Author page

7. Create an Author Website

  • Sample chapters
  • Book synopsis
  • Bio
  • Book retailer links
  • Reviews
  • Author events: signings, appearances, etc.
  • Contact information
  • Buy your own domain name. Avoid dot or unslash symbols, it makes it harder for readers to find you. 

8. Join Forums

Joining a forum like Goodreads is a great avenue for reviews, exposure and building a support system.

9. Reviews

Aim for at least 20 reviews to be posted on Amazon even before your official launch date.

Host a book giveaway on your blog or Goodreads. This doesn't guarantee a review, but at least it gets your book out there.

Ask book reviewers and bloggers in your niche if they would care to review your book. 

10. Create a Media Kit

  • Business cards
  • Headshot
  • Bio
  • Book Synopsis 
  • Q & A: Why you wrote the book, what market it targets, what is special about, etc.
  • Reviews
  • Press Release
  • Awards
  • Contact information 

11. Get Local
  • Organize an author signing at your local book store.
  • Pitch to local radio and TV stations. 
  • Pitch to local newspapers.
  • Attend writers conferences in your area.
  • Host a book party at home.
  • Inquire at local bookstores about putting your book on consignment.
  • Speak at your local library.
  • Do school readings. 

12. Work on Your Next Book

Keep Writing. 

Authors have a hard time getting noticed when they only have one book. Readers want to keep reading. The more works you have, the more readers will engage with you.

13. Hire Professionals

The world of self-publishing is saturated with unpolished novels with amateur covers . 

If you want your book to be noticed it has to be a cut above the rest. Hire professional editors and cover designers. 

Make readers take your work seriously.

14. Write One Hell of a Great Story

This technological age has given authors all over the world the opportunity to present their work. But it doesn't actually sell books.

When it comes down to it; all of this means nothing if you didn't write a quality book. We want our work to be read. But what we really want is for readers to talk about it.

And word of mouth is still the greatest promotion technique since the invention of the printing press.

Do you have any tips on how to get organized? Let me know

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