Writing is an arduous, albeit rewarding, journey filled with countless decisions. Each author is on a different place in their journey. Some have a well polished manuscript that just needs a few touch-ups, and some need months of developmental feedback to take what is on their heart and make it palatable to the reader.
If you are just starting out and know you need to write a book but don't know where to start, this is for you. Follow these tips and you'll have a book before you know it.
CART AND HORSE
When someone performs an action out of order they are often told, "Don't put the cart before the horse." It really is a silly bit of imagery, but from a publisher's perspective it is a very real, daily conversation. Whether it's the book cover, book title, the way the chapter heading looks, authors have a vision of the final product of their toil. Unfortunately, that vision can distract them from the work that really matters. Our job is to keep the horse in front of the cart.
So, if you are wondering where to start on your writing journey, start here.
STEP ONE: WRITE
If we had a dollar for every person who had a book title in mind but no words on paper, we'd have a lot of dollars. If you're just starting out, write. Write all the time. Write on the notes app on your phone, write on your laptop, write in your moleskin journal. Log every thought, illustration, and idea. Start by selecting a day of the week or time of the day you will dedicate to writing. Many professional authors work by word counts. They discipline themselves to write a few hundred words a day. That number fluctuates depending on the author, but the point is to be intentional. Maybe you are swamped and can only devote 2 hours a week to writing. Schedule it and stick to it. Before you know it you'll have a draft ready to send to your publisher. Writing is not editing. Don't make the mistake of editing your manuscript as you write. sure, there are basic things you'll catch as you re-read your content, but make the conscious decision to not edit until it's completed. Many authors prolong the book's completion by months because they can't stop trimming and tweaking before it's done. It also inhibits the creative flow. Just write, editing will come soon enough.
STEP TWO: EDIT
Editing is where the magic happens. It is also insanely labor intensive and may cause you to lose more than a few hairs. Depending on the author, editing will be a joy or a never-ending pain in the derriere. It depends how much you care to focus on the details. This is usually the time when the author begins dreaming about their book cover, easily distracted like Dug the dog in the movie UP. SQUIRREL!
STEP THREE: TITLE AND COVER DESIGN
To the author, the cover can become an obsession. You want to get the word out and tell the world YOU WROTE A BOOK! Cart, meet horse. Yes, your publisher may develop the cover while they are editing the book. It happens all the time. Do you know what else happens quite frequently? In the hybrid publishing world, when the cover is completed the author attempts to rush the rest of the process. Any good publisher will pump the brakes often. They aren't trying to rain on your parade, they are trying to keep the horse in front of the cart. Your cover may be completed months before your book goes into publication. Be patient.
This is an oversimplification of the process, but if you're looking to start a book and are not sure where to begin, starting simple may be what's needed. If you overcomplicate the process you may be the horse, staring at the back of the cart, wondering why it's not moving.