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Tips on Writing a Book (Before You Get Started Writing)

Award-winning writer Kathy Widenhouse has helped hundreds of nonprofits and writers produce successful content and has gained 600K+ views for her writing tutorials. She is the author of 9 books. See more of Kathy’s content here.

If you do a quick internet search you can find plenty of tips on writing a book. Courses on writing a book. Books on writing a book.

Tips on writing a book before you get started with Word Wise at Nonprofit Copywriter #amwriting #WritingTips #FreelanceWriting

And these days, self-publishing makes it easy and affordable for anyone to become a published book author. 

But should you write a book right now?

The idea of writing a book and publishing it yourself is appealing. When you’re the writer and publisher rolled into one, you don’t have to lobby for a book contract. You won’t have to wait 12-24 months or longer for your manuscript to lumber through the editorial process. Instead, you have control over your product. And in terms of money, you get to keep more of what you make from book sales.

Yet writing a book may give you pause. Maybe you’re intimidated or overwhelmed. You have heard people say that writing a book requires sweat equity and time. 

Still, plenty of people write books. So how do you decide if you should write a book or shelve the idea for later? 

There are plenty of great reasons to write a book and some compelling reasons not to. You want to know what you’re getting into so you can make a good decision. These tips on writing a book will help you decide if it’s for you right now or wait until you’ve done some more homework.

Tips on Writing a Book: Why You Should Proceed

To Share What You Know

If you’ve developed a special skill, a distinctive method, an unusual approach or viewpoint, a unique solution, or if you have a powerful personal story, you can write a book and share it with more people. Or perhaps others have asked you share your know-how in a book. When you write a book, you’re able to meet this important need in the marketplace.

To Multi-Purpose Your Content

Your book can allow you to reach a wider audience with your content. You can take the material you use as a speaker, teacher, or consultant and use it to write your book. Conversely, once you write your book, you can repurpose the content in a course, speaking engagements, and consultant work. In this way, a book is a good content marketing tool. It gives you visibility and authority in your niche by reinforcing your message through the printed word.

To Raise Awareness

Writing a book brings attention to your cause or might help you launch an organization. Your book can introduce readers to your topic, help them become more familiar with your topic, or reinforce your message.

To Learn

Any writer worth her salt completes a market analysis to find out what other books have already been published in that niche. Novelists must conduct research in order to convey an accurate setting and to create believable characters. Nonfiction writers go further with citations. Even if your book is a personal memoir, you need to review your journals, family history, and fact check details. You have to organize your ideas, interview people, and process your content. If you write a book, you’ll learn a lot. Trust me.

To Make (Some) Money

While making money is a reason to write a book, there is no guarantee how much you will make. You may make a little. You may make a lot. Or a book may provide only a small income stream but can open other financial doors for you.

Tips on Writing a Book: When You Shouldn’t Proceed Right Now

When Your Idea Is Untested

Maybe you’ve got a great idea, but you haven’t put it into practice. Or maybe you have created a process that will be helpful to many people, but you are not able to articulate it just yet. If your book idea is untested or you are unable to communicate it clearly, then wait to write your book until you can do so.

When You Have Unrealistic Expectations

How much time will it take to write your book? How much money will you make? How famous will you become? It is difficult to impossible to predict any of those outcomes. For instance, some literary novelists invest three to ten years in a book. More prolific writers produce a book in a month. Some writers become instantly famous and others sell less than ten copies of their magnum opus over a lifetime. If your plans are to write a book to gain fame and fortune, take some time to reassess your expectations. 

When You Only Want to Make Money

Like I said: you may make a little. You may make a lot. If financial gain is your sole reason for writing a book, then wait until you have other motivations in place.

When Everyone Else Is

Indie publishing: everyone’s doing it, but is that a good enough reason for you to invest time and sweat into writing a book? Check your motivations. If you feel compelled to write a book simply to keep up with the Writing Joneses, then wait. 

But ...

if you’ve got a well-defined idea that will help others and if writing a book will give you a good avenue for your message and extend your reach, then what are you waiting for? Get started writing that book already!

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