No. This is not clickbait! I would never!
Are there really three steps? Sure, I guess. Before typing up this article, I plugged “How to write a book” into the Google search bar, and guess what I found? A bunch of different steps. But are there really steps to writing?
After reading the top 5 articles, here’s my opinion, as someone who has been writing since I was a fetus. Of course, the first article is from Reedsy (a great resource for anyone wanting to write and publish). I should have known.
- 1. If you want to write a book, just write. I’ve never searched “How to write a book” before and gods are the results sort of dystopian: “Write everyday, sacrifice things you love to write.” “Keep writing even when you start to hate it.” “Finish your first draft first since it’ll be trash anyway.” I paraphrase.
First of all, if you’re in a rush to write a book, all this advice probably sounds good to you. By the third article, the content is basically the same, so I’ll tell you something new. If you don’t have fun reading and writing your story, no one else will have fun reading it. If you can so easily call anything you write trash (unless it’s a self-depreciating joke which seems to be culture at this point) then you aren’t being fair to your past and future selves.
Crafting a story out of thin air is really amazing even if you feel that it isn’t good enough. Let me just lay down the facts. Even the best books in the world have haters, and no matter how bad you think your book is, someone out there would love to read it, with all its errors, plot holes and overall weirdness.
Rushing doesn’t always equal success, haste makes waste and there are different levels to sucess (which I will talk about in the next point). Writing a book can be a very depressing and lonely process, especially if you think no one would like what you read. I personally don’t like to write offline and every time I do, I end up posting it somewhere because I can’t stand the silence. I crave the attention. I crave the feedback I get, even if it’s from just one reader.
Wattpad used to be great for feedback, both negative and positive, until the algorithm tanked, but its still a good place to share your work. You can upload your book—even the dreaded first draft—or part of it (if you just want feedback on a certain section) and see what comments you get. You can enter it in writing competitions and join book clubs to get a more conclusive reviews. If you interact with an audience before publishing, you can almost predict what your future readers will love or hate.
Inkitt seems to have a nice algorithm. It has forums, unlike Wattpad, where you can ask for reviews and beta readers in exchange for also giving feedback on the person’s book. Also unlike Wattpad, a reader can make both comments and reviews, and those advertise your story even more. Inkitt doesn’t have in-line commenting so the comments there are usually less interactive.
I’m on a bunch of writing websites but I went on a hiatus shortly after I joined them so I don’t think I have enough experience to be able to recommend them.
I joined Tapas after I stopped feeling all so great about Wattpad. Though it’s primarily a site for comics, novels do well there and you can get proceeds from ads and readers’ support once you reach a certain subscriber count. The people on there are really nice, and they leave the sweetest comments.
- 2. “Bestseller” Syndrome. Another thing all these articles have in common is the word Bestseller. Especially New York Times best seller. Also, there’s always self-advertising cutting me off from reading all these AMAZING tips, which only proves that to be a “bestseller” you need to advertise a lot, but they don’t tell you that in the article. No, no. It’s all about the writing.
I don’t live in America and I’m sure that not everyone in the world lives in America. All these five articles (except for Reedsy that is smart enough to generalize things) read as though they expected no one out of America to read it, which is wild, seeing how they’re always talking about knowing who is going to be reading your book.
I don’t like the way they claim to be able to make your book a best-selling one when it may not even be possible due to circumstances and all they’re telling you is to write fast, essentially. There are different degrees of success. BESTSELLER isn’t even at the top of the list unless all you care about is making money, which is fine honestly. But a lot of people write because it’s their passion, they want to educate people/share a piece of their soul with the world, and these articles are basically saying that they’re a failure if they don’t become bestsellers, which is really wrong.
The reason I write is because I love it. My characters are my friends and family. I want people to be able to tell what’s going on in my head through the words I write. I want to leave something behind that’ll outlive me. I just don’t want to die, then nothing. I want be a voice that gives other people voices, in a fun, adventurous way, and if I somehow become a Bestseller that’s just a cherry on top.
DON’T SELL YOURSELF SHORT IF YOU AREN’T MAKING ANY BIG BUCKS. You never know when or how you’re going to make it, so never give up. Use Google to improve your writing, there are a bunch of meaningful results when you search “How to use dialogue tags?” “What in the name of all that is holy is the Oxford comma???” “Why in the three hells aren’t I allowed to use a semicolon?” And other related searches.
I may not be a best-selling anything but I’ve read a lot of books that I wished were bestsellers and a lot of bestsellers I wished I could erase from my memory, so I’m obviously an expert!
- 3. Outline. Outline. Outline. Beginning, Middle, Ending. Rewriting. Redrafting. Editors, Proofreaders. Um, so this is the last step and this is getting a lil too long and now I see why the other articles are over 10 steps long, but FEAR NOT you will DEFINITELY know how to write a book by the time I’m done.
Outlining your story seems to be an important step in all this, as well as finding your reason for writing and bringing something new to the genre while simultaneously stalking all your successful ‘competitors’ and learning what made them tick and essentially copying that. It’s a tough life being a bestseller, I’ll tell you that… as someone who just read all those articles.
I’ll be honest and say that clichés sell. If your book is too niche (too specialized that the casual reader scratches their heads in confusion), then you won’t get a lot of readers, because there just aren’t enough people in the sample space of “possible readers” for you to win over a decent amount of them. At the same time, people are tired of reading the same book under all those different titles and book covers. So what new thing can you bring to stories that already exist? (It really is never specified. Ever.)
You know that saying that there is nothing new under the sun? It’s sort of a lie. Everybody that is born is new, their experiences are unique to them though they can intersect with the experiences of others. The new things you bring to your stories are your emotions, perspectives and opinions. When you craft characters and narratives using part of yourself, you’ve done half the job of writing a book worthy of being a bestseller, the rest is all the technical aspect… Which I don’t think I do very well… Because… I’m a Chaotic Plantser (and a mix of other things because nothing is ever set in stone, even the definition of my [or your] writing style) and that’s okay.
Stories have outlines in the way songs and poems have structure and meters, but you should know that not all songs and poems follow the “standard” that is set as a precedent, and the same is true for stories. There are a bunch of articles that can tell you how to write in a certain way and give very valid reasons why you should do so, but I think it’s much more fun discovering what is best for you.
There are very different kinds of writers and you may feel as though no one understands your specific struggles, but that’s not true. No matter whether you write on paper, a typewriter, use a keyboard or use your phone you’re valid and all valid writers have… WRITER’S BLOCK. Lol, no. Really. You have a story to tell, just like everyone else who ever decided to write.
So the last step that you need is… Never give up. Always finish your book, no matter how much you feel like dropping it. I saw a bunch of articles saying that when you finish your first book, the second, third, fourth, etc, get finished faster. That’s true for some people, and not, for others. Just like every person is unique, every book is unique. Some are a struggle to write, some are frustrating and the rest are just joys that embrace every word that falls out of your brain.
Google is your friend, it can teach you a lot about this grueling task of writing a book especially if you’re planning on publishing, on Amazon or otherwise. Don’t just google “How to write a book”, ask Google dearest about grammar rules, punctuation rules, common writing mistakes, clichés and tropes and everything else that catches your interest.
And finally, the most important thing. When your book is done, don’t leave it to rot. There’s no point writing something that no one gets to read. Publish it somewhere, whether it’s Amazon or getting it queried or posting it on a blog or writing website for feedback, PUT IT SOMEWHERE, then take a break and start thinking about what you’d like to change about it, what you could add or subtract to make it a better story. There’s always room for improvement, even in the best work. Rewriting tightens things up, and editors and proofreaders pick out errors and inconsistencies your darling brain will always overlook.
Think about it this way, your book was already perfect, even before you wrote it, but the process of extracting it from your brain is messy and you need to put in some extra work to get it as close as it can to that original perfect state.
These are just 3 steps to writing a good book. I don’t like writing long posts but I also can’t stop writing when I start so stay tuned for the next installment in the “How-to Series” and while you wait you can check out the websites I ended up at after asking google how to write a book! See ya!
- How to Write a Book in 15 Amazingly Simple Steps – Reedsy Blog
- How To Write A Book In 2021: A Proven Guide For New Authors
- 10 Ridiculously Simple Steps for Writing a Book – Jeff Goins
- How to Write a Book Step by Step: With a Free Book Template
- How to Write a Book: 23 Simple Steps from a Bestseller