The Next Great American Novel: The Complete Guide to Writing Your First Book

The Next Great American Novel: The Complete Guide to Writing Your First Book

Over 80 percent of people feel that they have a great idea for a novel. That means that if you’re reading this, then you probably have an idea too. There is no reason for you to wait any longer. Start writing and get your idea on paper.

On second thought, wait just a few moments. Before you start writing, read this complete guide to writing your first book.

Writing Your First Book: Where to Start

Maybe you’ve got a little bit of an idea, maybe you have nothing at all in mind but you know that you want to write something. Maybe you have a fully thought out story in your head ready to go. Regardless, you have to start somewhere.

If you’re planning on starting a career as a writer, you may want to prepare for a new career first. If you want to get a book written and pursue publishing, then you need to prepare for the writing process itself.

Story Structure

Every book is a story and every story starts with an idea. The first part of writing a great book is both the easiest and the hardest. For some people, ideas come easy, for others, they really have to focus on it.

Find a place to relax where you can shut out the outside world and distraction. Close your eyes and start thinking about stories.

You’ve probably heard that you should write what you know, and while that does make things easier, it doesn’t mean that you have to write about where you live and what you experience. You can set your story in a fantasy world filled with magic and use your life experience to build the characters.

Understanding story structure and the hero’s journey created by Joseph Campbell is one of the most important things you can do.

Once you have an understanding of how a story is built, you can start putting in the pieces. Think about the structure as a template that you can plug your ideas into.

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You can use a whiteboard, a piece of paper or even the notepad application on your phone to keep track of your plot and story.

Be Dedicated

Writing isn’t easy and you shouldn’t let anyone convince you otherwise. It can feel intimidating and stressful to sit down and write but once you do and the words start coming out it can be hard to stop.

Approaching your book as something that you must make a certain amount of progress on every day will keep you accountable. Set a schedule and stick to it, but make it reasonable.

If you set your daily goal too high with either way too many hours to write or too many words or pages, you’ll have a hard time hitting it and eventually give up.

There are apps that will help track your progress and keep you on time. Use whatever works for you to keep yourself making progress. Also, turn off the television and your phone if possible. Give your writing the attention it deserves.

Fix Your Formatting

You’ve finished your book. Congratulations. Take some time and celebrate. You did what many only wish they could do.

Now that you’ve taken time to reflect on what you accomplished it’s time to get it ready to send out to publishers. You should’ve written several drafts in order to get the best version of the book already.

Check out manuscript standards and be very detailed as you format your book. Publishers receive countless submissions and if your manuscript is formatted wrong they won’t even read it or consider it at all.

Even if you’ve decided to self-publish you need to get your formatting perfect for publishing. Find out more about self-publishing to know what to expect. Writing your first novel wasn’t easy so don’t waste it by just jumping in blind.

This step isn’t fun, but it is necessary to get your book into the hands of people that want to read it.

Publish Your Prose

You’ve got a properly formatted book that is amazing and you know that people will love it but you’ve got some steps to take before that can happen.

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If you’re seeking a publisher you’ll want to do some research. Find publishers that market books within the genre that you wrote. There is no reason to pursue a publisher that doesn’t consider science fiction when you’ve written a book about interstellar travel.

Remember to protect yourself and be cautious of any contracts that you may be asked to sign.

Once you’ve made a list of publishers, look at their submission guidelines and make sure you follow them to the letter. Just like your formatting, any mistake means that your book could just end up on a rejection pile.

If you’re self-publishing you need to decide if you are going to only publish digitally or if you want to make hard copies available. Different companies will make physical copies available on demand, meaning you don’t have to keep a risky inventory.

Self-publishing can lead to great success if you do it right.

Control Your Success

If you’ve had some success with your book that’s awesome. Get ready for a wild ride as you nurture and maintain your new writing career.

Don’t go into this without some security. Consider hiring a lawyer sooner rather than later to make sure you don’t get into some sort of legal agreement that hurts your future.

Now is not the time to get lazy with your schedule. You need to keep writing and keep publishing to build your audience, keep them happy and ride that wave to the bestseller lists.

Write Your Own Success Story

Years from now you can look back on when you wrote your first novel and think about everything you learned. Writing a book isn’t easy but if you put in the time and effort, you can be greatly rewarded.

As you write more, don’t be afraid to stretch and try new genres and new storytelling mediums. Keeping yourself challenged is the best way to be successful. If you want to know more about writing careers or want to do some research for your next novel, check out these great articles.

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