Since I announced (to the world and his Uncle) that I’m going to write my first two books by the time I hit 40 in ten months time, I’ve had some interesting responses. Quite a few have been of the “you’re clearly quite mad” variety – and I’m not going to argue with that – but most have been along the lines of “Hey, I’d like to write a book too but I don’t know where to begin”.
I can’t claim to be an expert on the subject yet, since I’ve only just started myself, but I thought it might be helpful to share some ideas about what helped me get going. In a word: planning.
So here’s my succinct guide to How To Plan Your First Book:
- Step One – Have something to write about
- Step Two – Define your writing goal(s)
- Step Three – Make a writing plan
1) Have Something To Write About
2) Define Your Writing Goal(s)
3) Make A Writing Plan
How to plan your first book…
- Firstly, write down your goal or goals as clearly as you can: “I will write and publish my book/novel/poems/play by (insert date)”. Make it realistic – there’s no point saying you’ll write and publish a book in two weeks if you know you can’t. Make the goal realistic, but challenging enough that you’ll feel suitably driven.
- Next, brainstorm all the different stages and actions you know you’re going to have to include in the process. For example, you might write down “complete first draft”; “write second draft”; “get feedback from friends and beta-readers on first draft”; “send second draft to professional editor”; “create author platform online using a blog and Facebook”.
- Then, brainstorm all the things you need to find out more about. For example, “investigate self-publishing options: e-book or print-on-demand?”; “find out cost of professional editing services”; “Google for information on building an author platform”.
- After that, arrange all the different actions and questions in a logical sequence from now until your goal date. It might be easiest for you to plan backwards, especially if you’re not sure what order to do things in. Start with your end goal and ask yourself: “can I do this now”? If the answer’s no, ask “what do I need to do first”? For example, you might get to the action “upload to Kindle” (if you’re e-publishing) and then realise you can’t do that because you don’t know if your manuscript will be in the correct format. So, “what do I need to do first?” leads you to “learn about formatting my book for Kindle“, and you can add that into your plan.
- Then, give yourself some targets and milestones. In the plan above, you’ll see that I’ve added in weekly word-count targets, and I’ve also committed myself to a certain level of social media activity each day.
- Finally, create some accountability for yourself. Buddy up with a friend, hire a coach, or do what I did – write a blog post about it, and plaster it all over Twitter. When you know that lots of people are watching, believe me – you’ll realise that you really do have to get started…
I’ll say more about the actual process of writing a book in a later post, and also something about how to build an author platform (which you should be doing before you start writing your book). In the meantime, I hope these tips on how to plan your first book have been useful – let me know how you get on with yours!
Images by the author and FreeDigitalPhotos.net