Last Updated on August 23, 2022 by Ben Oakley
I love being asked questions about writing, it is after all, my passion, life, and work. The most asked question goes something like; ‘how to write my first book?’.
Ask that to 100 different writers and you’ll get 100 different answers. This is simply my advice after having been somewhat part of the industry since 2011.
So here goes, here’s my top 10 tips for someone writing their first book, the pitfalls, the dangers, and the hope. Most importantly, do not let anyone tell you to stop following your dreams. If your dream is to write for a living, then…
1. Never give up
Once you’ve started writing a book, it’s easy to get distracted, lose faith in yourself, and want to move onto something else. If you never give up, then you will succeed where 90% of others fail. If you throw in the towel, then you’ll never know what might have been.
Sounds obvious but you’re not going to get your first book written without sitting down to hammer the keyboard a million times a week. It’s the best way to learn the craft, find your voice, and understand the process of writing itself.
3. Write what you want to write
Even if you’re an author who feels it best writing-to-market to gain traction, you can still write what you want to write. Sitting down to force out 1,000 words on a subject or genre that you really hate, is not good for you or the reader.
4. Write with your own voice
It may take time to really find your voice when writing. Like many artists, you may find your flow and voice after releasing a number of books, and that’s okay, your voice takes time to perfect. But it has to be your voice, inspired by your favourite authors, films, and the social structure of your life.
5. Write voluminously
Many authors are happy writing 1,000 words a week which is a great goalpost to hit. But if you want to be a successful and profitable author in the 2020s, then you should be pumping out at least 10,000 words a week, usually more.
6. Never stop the flow
There are many so-called productivity hacks that teach you to take constant breaks. But they don’t work for everyone. When you find yourself in the flow – that moment when the fingers are tapping away with ease and the ideas are coming strong – then don’t stop unless you really, really have to.
7. Write a series
You may have heard this mentioned on multiple writing forums, but the truth is, it works. Writing a series increases sales and helps build an author or publishing brand. Series are easier to market, better for readers, and allows you to work on multiple books at the same time.
8. Release a book at least once a quarter
A full-time author should aim to release a book at least once every three months. This helps keep your author profile fresh, relevant, and active. If you’re publishing through Amazon KDP then you benefit from Amazon’s built-in algorithms, leading to a higher position in the search results.
9. Believe in yourself
Professionalism is the greatest hindrance to creativity since time began. Write what you want to read and would enjoy reading yourself. In that first draft, skip the rules of grammar and let your imagination run wild, unrestricted by literary norms. You must believe in your own abilities.
10. Learn how to publish and market
This can be done alongside your writing schedule. If you’re self-publishing then you need to become an expert in editing, formatting, cover design, metadata, blogging, SEO, emotional detachment, and the financial side of the business.
There is a lot of advice out there for first-time authors and much of it is really good! Whatever you do, don’t fall for self-publishing scams or courses that you have to pay and arm and a leg for. All the information you need to publish your first book is already online for free.
Research, practice, learn, adapt, and continuously write to really get to grips with the creative and business side of being an author. Somewhere along the line, that dream you have of writing is going to become a reality.