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You're just getting started as a writer. Or you've been doing it your whole life. But you've never published a book. And you want to; you need to. You're just not quite sure how to begin. What would it actually take?
No publishers are knocking down your door, but you feel like you've got a book in you. What do you do? Do you wait? Do you try to get noticed?
Maybe not. Maybe it's time to get started now. Maybe you've already got everything you need to write your first book.
Here's a list of ideas for writing your first book, both conventional and unconventional, that should help you get started. I'd love you to add to it.
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Writing ideas for first-time authors
- Build a platform with a blog and let the publisher come to you.
- Self-publish an eBook. Who knows? Maybe you'll end up like Amanda Hocking, earning herself a traditional book contract after selling 1.5 million books on Amazon.
- Work on your book proposal. While I'm not a fan of waiting to be picked, writing a book proposal requires real work, and it can pay off. Getting an actual book deal still carries with it a lot of legitimacy.
- Write a 1000-word electronic manifesto and give it away for free when people join your mailing list. (Here's mine, along with a bunch of other bonuses and the training I mentioned above.)
- Do something remarkable — an article, publicity stunt, a bike ride across the country to benefit charity — and earn the attention of an audience or a publisher. Then, tell your story.
- Write and publish a novel, one chapter at a time, using Amazon Kindle singles, Wattpad, or sharing with your email list subscribers.
- Write a print-on-demand book through a provider like CreateSpace.
- Start a website on WordPress or Tumblr and use it write your book a chapter or scene at a time. Build a tribe through your subscriber list and then eventually publish all the posts in a hardcopy book, then sell it to your list.
- Finance your own self-publishing project by crowd-sourcing through a Kickstarter project. Anne Jackson did this with her poetry book project.
- Don't write a book. There are too many unread books in the world. Instead, write a short pamphlet to spread an idea. This, as you may recall, was how ideas got around long before the Internet.
- Write a short book of poems or stories. Long projects are daunting. Start small.
- Write what you know. Maybe it's a memoir of your a family or a how-to book about getting started with your favorite hobby.
- Keep a journal. Then, rewrite the entries in a much more polished book format, but use some photo copies or scans of the journal pages as illustrations in the book. You could even sell “deluxe” editions that come with photocopied versions of the journal. (A little personal, but people would love it.)
- Write an article that tells the absolute, brutal truth about the status quo. Call out a dysfunctional norm, something that's wrong with the world that we all know but don't talk about. Be bold, be honest, and demand action.
- Write a series of letters to yourself 10 years ago. What would you say? Use this as a manuscript for a book that you pitch to a publisher or publish yourself.
- Go non-traditional. Be the next William Faulkner or Ernest Hemingway. Be terse; go all stream-of-consciousness. Think outside the box.
So there you go. Those were some my best ideas for how to get started on your first book. And getting started is important. But finishing is the part that really matters, and it's the hardest part.