From idea to book launch

Are you forever coming up with great book ideas? They say we all have a book in us, but how many actually make that step from idea, to actually writing the whole book?

Before you get started, ask yourself a few questions:

1. Is there a market for your book? Are books on similar topics for sale, and are the doing well? Do you have anything new to say on the same topic? Will the topic be out of date by the time your bookreaches the market? If you can find a strong market for your book, the time you spend writing it may be well-invested. And, while you may miss the beginning of a new craze (for example; the sudden interest in decluttering homes, following the success of Marie Kondo’s Netflix show), you may still get to ride in the wake of its success, as readers get hooked on a topic as opposed to the author.

2. How will you publish the book? Fiction and non-fiction are quite different markets and may dictate your publishing strategy.If you’re writing fiction, it’s more likely you’ll self-publish an ebook, which means you write the book first, and publish later. For non-fiction (and children’s illustrated fiction), you will need a publisher and therefore, need a publishing deal before you even write the book.

3. Are you willing to spend hundreds of hours writing, rewriting and editing your book? Having an idea for a book is relatively easy, but actually writing it takes a lot of time and dedication. If you’re writing around work and personal commitments it may take a year or two to complete your book. Are you committed to that investment?

If you’re committed to going ahead, it’s time to get started.

First, write your book proposal and outline. Even if you are writing fiction and don’t have a publisher to convince, it will help your writing process if you can write a summary of what your book is about. What will make your reader excited enough to buy your book? What will they learn or enjoy?

Your outline should list your chapters and a brief summary of what is in each. In non-fiction, this is likely to be a list of topics with key learnings from each. For fiction, it will represent the main action and character journeys, even if you haven’t quite figured them out yet. Of course, the story can change as you develop your characters, but it’s good to start with a plan in mind, making sure the plot builds towards the climax.

For non-fiction, normal practice is to send the proposal and first three chapters to publishers, who will then tell you whether they are interested in taking on your book. They may offer an advance, but beware this will also be attached to a deadline, which means you have to write the rest of the book under time pressure. Make sure you research publishers who have already published successful books on your topic, or similar, so that there is a known market for your book. Of course, yours will still need to stand out from the crowd, so make sure you can articulate your point of difference.

If you’re writing fiction, it’s time to get on and write the book! Then invest some cash in an editor and proofreader to make sure you have a top quality product to launch on Kindle. The beauty of self publishing is you can make changes to your book, and you own exclusive rights to it, meaning if a big publisher comes along to offer a deal, you can take it! But until then, your biggest outlay is your time.