Writing tips

Commit to a “shipping” date.

Once you have an idea of how many words a day you can realistically commit to writing and roughly how many words your book will have, you’ll have a better idea of how long it will take you to finish the first draft if you’re working consistently toward that goal. So, set a date and allow yourself to imagine how excited you’ll feel when you’ve reached it.

Cut yourself some slack.

Your book is never going to be perfect. No author’s book is. Don’t let unrealistic expectations stop you from publishing or submitting your work. Join the ranks of the imperfect but published authors. Own your less-than-perfectness and get those words out of you and onto the page. Only then can you make them better.

Create a plan for your book launch and marketing.

It’s not too early to think about your book launch and about how you’ll market your book afterward. What will you do during the launch to get the word out about your book’s promotion? What will you do after launch — every week — to get the eyes of your ideal readers on your book? Knowing this now can help you lay the foundation for a successful launch and an effective marketing plan.

Write the book you wish existed before you knew what you know now.

Your big idea should be something that excites you. Write the kind of book you were looking for before you learned what you needed to know along the way. Or write about something that meets a real and significant need in your ideal reader. Write a book that will make someone’s life better than it is now.

Do your research.

You want your book to add value, and you don’t do that by making assumptions based on what you think you know and treating them as facts. Nothing destroys your credibility more quickly than factual errors in your book. You add value by asking questions, finding the best answers to those questions, and sharing those answers with others who are likely to care.

Keep it simple. Keep it clear.

Your readers’ experience should be as enjoyable as possible. You don’t want any of them struggling to understand what you’re trying to say. To that end, do your best to avoid the following:

  • Long, rambling sentences
  • Overly long paragraphs
  • Stream-of-consciousness writing (with a thousand tangents and no filter)
  • Unnecessary jargon
  • Unnecessarily ornate language
  • Analogies that don’t work

Start with something short.

Get experience writing a complete book — finishing, editing, and publishing it — so you can learn from it and make your next book even better. Amazon’s Kindle Short Reads could be just the place for your new book; Amazon sorts these by their estimated reading time, with the longest not exceeding 100 pages (about two hours of reading time). If you write short stories, consider submitting one to the Kindle Singles program, which pays 70% royalties for any story accepted by their team of editors.

Eliminate filler words and redundancies to tighten your writing.

Once you know what filler words to look out for, you can avoid them even while writing your first draft. Don’t beat yourself up, though, if some slip through the cracks. They’re sneaky.

  • That
  • Unnecessary adverbs (very, really, mostly, actually, usually, hopefully, etc.)
  • Just
  • And then… It’s important to note, here, that not all of these filler words deserve the ax. If your editor agrees that a sentence sounds fine the way it is, go with it.

Call Yourself a Writer

Writers write. Professional writers write every day. If you’re writing a book, you’re not an “aspiring writer.” You are a writer. There is no “aspiring.” You are doing it. And by doing it, you are also being it. So, if anyone asks what you do — for a living, for fun, for the good of humanity, whatever — tell them that, among other things, you are a writer. Because if you’re showing up and doing the work, that’s what you are. Own it.

Find beta readers who read your genre.

It’s a good idea to find willing beta readers (who love your book idea) before you’ve even finished your book. Please do not cheat yourself of the opportunity to receive helpful feedback from these gems of the writing universe. Some of these will be writers, too, so you can return the favor when they need beta readers for their books.