Let's talk about getting started, you know, the stuff you need to do before you actually publish your book.
1) Write about the things you know and know well. Although it is true that you can research anything on the internet the best topics come from your own knowledge. You cannot fake knowing about things. If you are a great cook, then write about cooking. Perhaps a fiction book about a woman or man who cooks or perhaps a recipe book. Stick to what you know. For example, I write about metaphysical topics, those things that cannot easily be explained or measured such as spirituality, prayer, love, visions, dreams, and so on, because it is my area of study and I have over 30 years of experience in the field. Using that experience, I wrote a series of books about a sweet, young woman named Becky as a medium. The setting for that story was Asheville, North Carolina because it is where I lived when writing the series. I wrote her into scenes I had personally visited such as restaurants, local pubs, the River Arts District, and other places of interest such as the fabulous waterfalls surrounding the area. If you have not traveled very much, use the scenery in your own hometown because you know it well. You can call the town or city any name you choose but you can base your story on your knowledge of the town. That requires little research unless you are referring to its historical past. If you have medical experiences, such as nursing or EMT, make sure to use that as your backstory or main story.
2) Take your time. Writing is a marathon, not a sprint. Whether you write by drawing up an outline (always a great way to begin) or while flying by the seat of your pants, figure out your system by understanding what works for you. In the beginning, an outline might be your best choice. How many chapters do you want in your book? How many words do you want in each chapter? I like to set up my word document before I ever begin to write the novel or study guide. (You can find free and very useful templates on Amazon Kindle or Kindle Direct Publishing which is your KDP dashboard once you set up an account with Amazon KDP.) I also like to design my book cover before I start to write. My book cover inspires me and keeps me going when things feel uncertain. Of course, that is just me. Because I am self-published or an Indie Author, I format my books and design most of my book covers. You can check out my website here. There are some great resources to help you with that when you are ready. For now, I get free-to-use images from Pixabay.com and I use PosterMyWall.com to design the covers. Canva.com is another excellent source. After you have designed your cover, you can pay between $2.99 to $7.99 for your image. I usually go with the $2.99 version because I use a free photo editing software, Paint.net, to resize the image to the Kindle requirements for the typical eBook format of 6"X9". As the boy scout motto says, "Always be prepared!" BTW, if I cannot find an image that is perfect on the free sites, I will pay around $29.00 for an image on one of the paid sites. My covers are important to me but there are a lot of great artists out there that upload their work for free. Just make sure you check the use and attribution requirements.
3) As you write your book and just before you stop for the day or session, make sure to use Grammarly free for your PC or https://app.grammarly.com for your phone. You can download it to Word and open it to check your grammar and spelling even though you already used spell checker. I guarantee that you will find more things to correct through Grammarly and you will miss very few. That is the thing about writing and editing our own work; we know what it is supposed to say and as we read it, it says that... Only, it doesn't. Your mind is tricking you. Now, using these tools is great but you still need an editor or proofreader before you publish. Don't use family and friends unless you have a retired school teacher in the lot. They do not want to hurt your feelings. Do not bombard them with every chapter as you write it. Use Grammarly first and foremost on each chapter. When you are finished and you have thoroughly checked your book file, then send it to an editor or proofreader or that favorite retired school-teacher aunt. Make sure to get a referral from an author friend or someone you trust for your editor or proofreader. Above everything, don't publish before you are pretty darn sure your story is free of errors.
4) Decide if you will go wide or stick to Amazon and their amazing plans to help you. We will discuss going wide or KDP Select in the next post. In the meantime, do a little research and read every article you can find on which one is better. Of course, you have to make the decision in the end. I have done both and that is why I feel confident writing about it in my next post. OK, for newbies, what is going wide? It means you sell your book on as many platforms as possible. If you publish with Smashwords or Draft2Digital, your book will show for sale on Kobo, iTunes, Nook, and several other places. If you choose to publish with Amazon KDP Select, your book is only available on Amazon. Keep in mind that even if you go with the other platforms and you want your book listed on Amazon, you must still go through the process of creating an account and uploading, publishing, approving, etc., with Amazon. They don't allow Smashwords or any other site to put your book up for you although Smashwords will create a Kindle or Mobi version for you.
5) Learn how to promote your book. If you are self-published and even if you are lucky enough to find an actual publishing company, you will still need to promote your work. I laugh as I recall my first nonfiction book published back in 2008. It was a great book and won 7 awards for inspirational/motivational devotion books. I was so happy! And, I didn't know anything else. I let the book sit there for several years without promoting it. By promoting I mean Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, start your own newsletter, etc. You can sign up for all of them and more but you will find that you can successfully do two or three and still have time to write. That is what I have done by primarily using Twitter and Facebook. Depending on your generation you will have your favorites places. The thing you have to keep in mind is that there are now more authors than ever before... as of today, there are 2,700 new books published every day. I hope that puts things in perspective. With so many new books and new authors, how do you rise to the top? How do you get noticed? Do your research, read everything you can on how to promote your book. Learn to promote yourself, your book, your genre. Success will not find you overnight. Hold steady and keep going.
“Once you are clear about what you wish to create, you can maintain a steady stream of thoughts – unwavering, resolute, and focused.”―