Are you wondering how to author a book so that you can become the next Stephen King, Walt Whitman, Virginia Woolf, Dan Brown,Ralph Waldo Emerson or thriller, suspense and erotica author Stacey Carroll? (Kidding on the one. You don't want to be. You want to be you.) With that being said, authoring a book can be a rewarding experience, especially once you see your name on the cover and feel your print book in your hands, but how do authors write books?
1. You Need an Idea Before You Can Become a Famous Author
The first step to authoring a book is having an idea. What do you want to write about? What genres do you like, or what’s your area of expertise if you plan to write a non-fiction book? Of course, if you’re thinking of writing a fiction or non-fiction book, you probably already have an idea about what you’d like to write, and if you don’t, think about the types of books you like to read and where they fell short for you. Then, write the book you’d like to read and include all the elements you thought were missing from the books you’ve read. For me, that’s writing books from the bad guy's perspective and taking a no-holds-barred approach, meaning I don’t fade to black, and I don’t skip writing the difficult scenes.
2. Write a Sentence or a Paragraph About Your Book
Next, write a sentence or a paragraph about the book you intend to write. You don’t have to write out a complete outline, but you do need to have something you can reference or review. It can be as simple as how I started The Blooddoll Factory: An unemployed male nurse gets a job at a reproductive clinic only to learn that the babies he is helping to create are being sold to the local vampire population, or it can be an entire paragraph, like how I started Anything for an A.
With time running out, 18-year-old senior Kelsey must get straight A’s in order to qualify for a scholarship to college. After living several years on the street with her poverty riddled parents, Kelsey was taken in by a man she calls Uncle Greg, but he only agreed to house her until she graduated from high school. With one semester left, Kelsey has to prove that she has a 4.0 graduating GPA in order to get a free ride to college via an exclusive scholarship, and that means getting straight A’s her final semester and somehow convincing the teachers to change her previous grades. If she can’t do it, she knows she’ll have to go back on the streets.
It’s important to understand that anything you write about your new book idea is fine just so long as you write down something that you can reference or remember later. You’ll also need these sentences and paragraphs later for your book blurbs and online advertisements or query letters if you plan to try for a traditional publishing contract. The reasoning is simple, these first few thoughts on your book are going to be the least muddled because you aren’t thinking about subplots and secondary characters or the nuances and plot twists that you’ve inserted into your book.
3. Write Down the Names and Descriptions of Your Main Characters
Next, write down your main characters' names and a brief description. You do not have to write down a full biography of each character or even descriptions of their appearances at this stage. In fact, doing so may slow down your progress or make you feel like you’ve started your book when, in reality, you haven’t written a word. You’re still in the pre-planning stages. For this reason, I recommend you do this quickly and move on. When I began Anything for an A, I started with this list:
- Kelsey - Girl who needs straight A's
- Carl - Her best friend
- Mr. Hattrick - Principal
- Mr. Ingles - English Teacher
- Greg Black - Kelsey's "uncle"
- English Mr. Ingles
- Statistics - Mr. Scatterplot
A preliminary list with very short characters descriptions, or even just job titles, is enough to get you started. It also helps ensure that you do not forget your character’s names. As you progress through your book, you will add to this list as your secondary characters appear, but for now, this is enough.
4. Open Your Writing Weapon of Choice
For a new or aspiring author, you may want to choose a basic word processor, like Libre Office, Open Office, Word or Google Docs. If you’re going to use multiple devices to write your book, I suggest choosing Google Docs or Word Online. Both of these will give you cross-platform and device capabilities because they are web-based. As you advance through your author career and write more books, you may want to switch to something a little more robust, like Novelize,Wavemaker or Bibisco, which allow you to input all of your extra novel information, like summaries, notes, characters, plots and subplots, along with your actual novel, into the writing platform.
5. If You want to Be a Famous Author, You Have to Get Rid of the Blank Page
Once you have your word processor or novel-writing program open, get rid of your blank page. Most beginning and even advanced authors get stuck simply by opening their software of choice and staring at the blank page. Mt recommendation is to get rid of it immediately.
If you are using a basic word processor, copy and paste your sentence and/or paragraph that you wrote earlier at the top of the page. Then, paste in your character list. Next, type in your book’s title or genre and theme and make it a header. You can include By Your Name if you like.
Chapter 1 – Whatever the heck is going to happen or a day or date. I usually start mine with Chapter 1 – Monday. Then, I go back later and give them real chapter names or add subtitles under the main chapter heading once I’ve completed the book.
Next: Write Your Opening Scene
If you know how your book starts, you can simply type it out. If you have no idea what to write as an opening sentence, start by waking your characters up. Waking up your characters is the easiest way to start a new novel. After all, they’ve been sleeping in your head. It’s time to wake them up and bring them to life. Once you get several drafts into your novel, you’ll create a new opening with more action, but for now, waking up your characters in the first paragraph is fine because it’s going to get you started.
6. Are You the Next Dan Brown, Stephen King or Anne Rice? You’ll Need to Write Your First Draft to Find Out
Now, it’s just a matter of getting all those thoughts and ideas about your book onto the page. For your first draft, just write it down. Don’t worry about getting your words or sentences perfect, and don’t worry about flow or how it reads. Your only goal for your first draft is to write it. I recommend doing this in 30 to 45 days, but it can take some new authors longer to get the first draft complete. I also recommend that when you stop for the night, you tab down a few lines and summarize what you think is going to happen next. This will help you stay on track and help ensure that you do not get lost in your own work.
7. Persistence is the Key to Becoming a Published Author
I don’t know any author that can write a complete finished book in one draft. This means that you will perform several drafts or edits of your work before you can call it complete and get it published. I use the Five Draft Method.
Draft 1: The Junk Draft - This is the draft you are writing right now
Draft 2: The Structuring Draft - This is where you start putting it all together and adding things you may have skipped or forgotten in the first draft. Your word count should increase with this draft
Draft 3: The Rough Draft - This is where you start working on ensuring that your plots and subplots are well defined and move the story forward. Your word count is still going to increase with this draft.
Draft 4: The Analytical Draft or Surgical Draft - This is where you are going to start deleting things that don’t make sense, clarifying your description and ensuring that your work flows and does not contain any obvious grammar errors. At this stage, you are going to see your story start to take shape, and you’ll have a good idea of the finished product. Your word count could increase or decrease at this stage.
Draft 5: Final Draft - This is the draft where you will make your final tweaks to the content. You will look for dropped subplots and finalize your character development and the overall story. At this point, you should see your story really taking shape to the point where you shouldn’t have to perform any more major drafts or edits. Your word count may or may not change significantly.
8. Proofread Your Soon to Be Published Novel
The last thing you do to a novel before publication is proofread it. This is where you look for redundant words, misspellings, forgotten punctuation and other minute details that don’t impact the story but will drive your readers insane if they see too many technical mistakes. You can hire someone to proofread your novel, or you can do it yourself. It’s really up to you and your budget or publication timeline.
9. Time to Be a Published Author and Realize Your Dreams!
Once you’ve completed your book and proofread it, it’s time to become the published author you’ve always wanted to be. You generally have two choices when it comes to publishing your book. You can self-publish via Amazon and/or Barnes and Noble, or you can submit query letters and submission packages to agents and publishing houses. If you are trying to determine whether you should self-publish or traditionally publish, here are a few pros and cons of publishing methods to help you make your decision.
Read More on Drafting Your Novel
- The Minimalist’s Way to Start a First Draft ...
- Best Approaches to Start a Second Draft ...
- Writing the Third Draft of a Fiction Novel ...
- How to Write the Fourth Draft of a Fiction Novel ...
- How to Write the Fifth and Final Draft of a Novel ...
- How Many Drafts Should You Put on a Fiction Novel? ...
Read More from Stacey Carroll
An unemployed male nurse lands a job at a reproductive clinic only to learn the babies he is helping to create are being sold to the local vampire population.
After being unemployed for a year, William finally receives a call to come into Elite Surrogates and Adoption (ESA) for an interview. The sterile white interior does nothing for his confidence as he’s led to Sadie Jones' (HR manager’s) office where she proceeds to question him about his job experience and reproductive knowledge.
It all goes well in this paranormal medical erotic romance until William realizes that he’s going to have to “perform” for the job. Fifty dollars an hour would help him catch up on his mortgage and get his wife to stop nagging him about the bills. However, using his own semen to propagate the reproductive cycle is more than a little weird. After considering the job and the busty HR manager, he agrees to continue the interview.