So You Want To Write a Book- Four Things to Know Before Starting

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Everyone told you to do it! Your clients are waiting to get a bulk of information from you. Your life coach insists it will expose you to greater opportunities, so why not write that book?

If you’re like most people your excuse is you don’t even know where to begin. You hear the words edit, agent, design, self-publish, copyright, and publishing, and now the headache you just got rid of is back.

As excited as you are, you don’t know where to start. The great thing about writing a book is you don’t have to start from the beginning, just start writing and let everything else fall into place. There are; however, four things you should know and understand before getting started.

1-Know the Difference Between Fiction and Non-Fiction

You’d be amazed at how many adults I consult and they are confused between what is Fiction and Nonfiction.

  • Fiction  I like to define fiction as whatever you can possibly imagine; in other words, if your idea is full of characters and a storyline that you made up, even if there is a moral to the story, it is fiction. Merriam Webster defines fiction as ‘written stories about people and events that are not real’.


  • NonfictionA nonfiction book is a where you add your facts, speak to your audience in order to get your expertise clearly defined and read. It is defined as, writing that is about facts or real events.[Webster Dictionary]

A nonfiction is a biography, a memorable time in someone’s life (known as a memoir), or researched information. Most nonfiction is self-published according to the niche audience it possesses.

2-Know the Difference Between Traditional Publishing and Self-publishing

The next thing you need to know is whether or not you want to have your book traditionally published or self-published. This is an area of publishing where you have a choice of how you want to financially reap what you sow.

In most conflicts there are two sides to the story. The same holds true when it comes to publishing.

  • Self-publishing- Is mainly used by nonfiction writers who have a niche market that they want to inform others about. Depending on the services a self-publishing company provides, a writer will pay that company to edit, design the book and cover, market, and or sell the book on the publishing website or an affiliate.

The majority (if not all) of the proceeds accrued will go to the author. This is the ‘happy side’ of self-publishing.

The harder side (I will not call it bad side because some people actually like this), is the self-marketing part. Although some publishing companies offer marketing, it comes with a fee and usually that fee is way up there for the ‘I’m just starting out’ person. A lot of writers rather not opt for that service; therefore, leaving it up to themselves to publicize and sell the book.

  • Traditional Publishing- Is fewer hands on. In fact it is HANDS OFF! Once you write the book and the publishing company agrees to produce your book, you give all responsibility to them. You get a payment of what they think the book is worth (after your agent gets their cut, if you used one, then they edit, design the book and cover, while getting all the legalities solidified, promote it, and give you a percentage of proceeds made.

If I got you’re thinking I JUST GOT PAID,” think again. For a book sold for $12.95 you may only see .25 cents per copy sold. Unless you are a famous writer like Stephen King (my favorite after James Baldwin) or you hit it big in the young adult streak, like Stephanie and Marissa Meyer (not related), you’re not even looking at enough to buy a cup of coffee.

The lack of control in the process and profit of one’s book is why a lot of writers with a niche market choose self-publishing. This is not to deter you from traditional publishing. There are a lot of plus to traditional publishing especially if you’re a fiction writer or a business entrepreneur who will write more than one book.

Once you decide which publishing process is good for you, the next thing you need to know is what genre your books falls into.

3-Know Your Genre

If you’re writing a non-fiction book, it should be pretty easy to know which genre lies. It would either be in business, science, spiritual, and so forth. The confusion of what genre is best for your book usually brings problems in the fictional world. They are a variety of your book can fall into and it is important to know exactly where your book fits especially when it comes to seeking an agent. Agents represent a specific genre and if you don’t know what genre your book fits into, not only would it be hard to find the right agent but you would not know which audience to attract to your book.

Once the genre is distinguished and you are ready seek an agent or self-publish, it is best to have the book edited by someone other than you.

4-Why You Need an Editor

You are the only person that knows your book the best and what it represents. You are also your own worst critic or greatest cheerleader. With this being known, it is best to let an editor review your book. An editor knows what to look for as far as grammar and proofreading. It is also a fresh pair of eyes that may catch things you missed or point out some areas where elaboration is needed.

The best work you have is what should be presented to your audience or to the agent. What you feel is your best work should be handed to the editor so that when they go through it, they are not that many corrections and you can get your book out faster and with less hassle.

When I say look for an editor it does not only mean someone who is your best friend or family member (unless that is their profession). You should seek a professional editor–one who works in your genre if possible. A good editor will be able to work in more than one genre as well as give you advice on what direction to take your book in case its meaning is not certain.

Having these four things solidified will help in your process to getting your book published.

What is your book about? I can tell you which genre it will fit.

About Aliefwrites

Alison enjoys writing about topics that can inspire and help others in their journey of becoming a writer or blogger. She is an editor, proofreader, writer, and graphic designer. She loves crafts and planning big event parties and is in the process of writing her sci-fi trilogy The Elements.
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