Want to write a book but don’t know where to start? Learn how to start writing a book for beginners with these tips to kickstart your book-writing journey.
“I want to write a book. Where do I start?”
Whether you’ve honed your skills as a freelance web content writer or are an aspiring hobbyist with dreams of publishing your own book, embarking on the journey of writing a publishable book demands prior knowledge and preparation.
Familiarizing yourself with essential insights is a crucial step before diving into the world of book authorship. This article will help you learn the things you should know before beginning to write a book.
Now, I’m no stranger to self-publishing, as I embarked on this journey by releasing my first non-fiction book on Amazon in 2014. Subsequently, I authored a series of non-fiction works, one of which achieved bestseller status, and even ventured into the realm of short stories.
In January 2022, I published my first science-fiction novella, Mars Glow: Aera Cura, and made it a bestseller in the Top Free Kindle Book listings.
Over the years, I’ve been approached by numerous individuals seeking guidance on the art of book writing. In response, I decided to share my advice on how to start writing a book and get it published.
Before we delve deeper into this discussion, I invite you to join my Facebook Group for writers.
There, you can access an array of free resources for book writing, including downloadable materials and guides designed to help you start your writing journey and achieve your publishing aspirations.
So how do you start writing a book? If you’re a first-time writer seeking guidance on writing your first book, rest assured you can learn how to write a book with no experience.
Comprehending the intricacies of book writing and adopting the correct approach will significantly enhance your prospects of crafting a publishable and potentially bestselling work.
Mastery of the writing process equips you with the tools to captivate readers, ensuring your book not only sees publication but also has the potential to soar as a bestseller.
These guidelines on how to write a book step-by-step are a valuable resource for beginners, offering insights into the optimal approach for commencing your book-writing journey.
Whether you’re new to the craft or a seasoned writer, they provide essential wisdom on the best way to start writing a book for beginners.
- How to write a book for beginners
- #1. Choose your book genre
- #2. Research Amazon book categories
- #3. Choose your book title & topic
- #4. Consult a book writing coach
- #5. Join a writing class & community
- #6. Write your book outline or plot
- #7. Leverage AI story-writing tools
- #8. Edit and proofread your manuscript
- #9. Contact a book publisher
- #10. Consider self-publishing
- How do you start a book?
- How to write realistic and compelling plotlines
- Book writing tips for beginners
How to write a book for beginners
For aspiring writers and novelists who don’t know how to begin writing a book and need help writing a book for the first time, this guide to writing a book will help you achieve your goals.
By following these tips on writing a book for beginners, you’ll acquire the knowledge and skills necessary to embark on your journey to becoming a published author.
#1. Choose your book genre
The inaugural step in planning to write a book that will get published and become a bestseller is genre selection. A book genre is your passport to different worlds, each with its unique tapestry of emotions, adventures, and ideas.
You could be a magician weaving spells in the mystical land of fantasy, a detective chasing shadows in the thrilling domain of mystery, or a romance novelist sweeping readers off their feet with tales of passion and love.
Non-fiction, on the other hand, lets you become an explorer, unveiling the hidden truths of history, science, or human experience. Poetry, with its lyrical verses, invites you to dance with words, painting vivid emotions with the strokes of your pen.
Drama places you center stage, crafting scripts that come alive in the spotlight of a theater or on the grand screen. For the young at heart, children’s literature awaits, with age-appropriate wonders in picture books, middle-grade adventures, and young adult mysteries.
And for the audacious, genre-blending offers a canvas where you can merge realms, creating unprecedented stories like historical romance or science fiction thrillers. To know more, read this article on the 14 main literary genres.
Why is selecting a genre before you put pen to paper so crucial? Because it’s a grand orchestration of expectations, style, and destiny.
First, it sets the stage for your audience, ensuring your readers know what to anticipate. Different genres have different rules, and readers eagerly embrace those rules when they choose their literary voyage.
Then, there’s the matter of style. Each genre has its signature language, rhythm, and narrative structure. It’s like choosing the right costume for your story’s ball – a historical ball gown for a period piece or a sleek spacesuit for a science fiction adventure.
Consider the marketplace, where genres are like street signs guiding readers to their desired destination. By picking the right one, you make it easier for your book to stand out and beckon to its intended readers.
Speaking of readers, their hearts are often drawn to a specific genre like moths to a flame. Selecting the right genre ensures you connect with those who will cherish your story the most.
Genres also offer creative constraints that can ignite your imagination. Within the boundaries of a chosen genre, you can craft a unique narrative that bends, challenges, and transcends expectations.
And if your aspirations lead you to traditional publishing, agents and publishers will be delighted to know your story’s genre. It’s a crucial detail in navigating the vast ocean of the publishing world.
Remember, though, while genres are stars that guide your literary ship, they should never limit your voyage. Within each genre, there’s room for daring innovation and imagination. So, choose your genre wisely, dear writer, for it’s the first step on a magical journey where the pages of your story come alive.
This initial decision entails defining your target audience, a pivotal choice that sets the course for your writing journey. Do you want to write for kids, young adults, or adults? Do you want to write fiction or non-fiction?
Are you interested in learning how to write a self-help book, write a memoir book, or write a poetry book? If you want to write fiction, what genre of fiction do you want to write?
#2. Research Amazon book categories
This tip for writing a book carries profound significance because the meticulous selection of browse categories and Amazon keywords, constituting your book’s metadata, significantly shapes how readers discover and ultimately acquire your book within the expansive Amazon marketplace.
Mastering the art of discerning the correct Amazon book categories and keywords is a strategic step in enhancing your book’s visibility and appeal to potential readers.
These Amazon book category selections and keywords not only bolster traffic but, when expertly incorporated into your metadata, forge a create a strong detail page that impacts conversion to sales.
Furthermore, continuous tracking of your book’s sales ranking and monitoring competitor authors’ performance is indispensable for sustained success in the marketplace.
As a result of Amazon’s latest category update, 27 percent of shoppable categories are now hidden from view. In addition, books cannot be included in rankings or become bestsellers in such sections.
This implies that many writers’ books are receiving significantly less interest than they had hoped, prompting an increased need for information on how to avoid “ghost categories” and preserve book sales.
These Amazon keyword research tools will help you tweak your Amazon book listing so you can generate maximum Kindle book sales.
- KDSPY is one of the best tools an author can use because it provides revenue metrics, keywords, competitor research, book tracking, and more at your fingertips, so you can uncover your ‘profitable’ book topic in just a few clicks.
- Publisher Rocket is another research tool that provides real-time data on what Amazon book buyers type into Amazon, as well as how many people search for these keywords each month.
These tools can help you quickly find pertinent and niche categories for your books and learn how many books you’d need to sell that day in order to be the new #1 bestseller.
#3. Choose your book title & topic
The next step in writing a book involves the pivotal decision of your book’s content. Are you writing a children’s book or writing a book about your life?
Consider if you’re aiming to educate your readers or weaving a captivating narrative that ensnares their imagination, making it impossible to set your book aside. This choice shapes your book’s essence and purpose.
Opt for a book topic or theme that ignites your passion or aligns with your expertise. Your genuine enthusiasm will prove invaluable in sustaining your motivation throughout the writing journey.
This genuine interest serves as a powerful driving force, helping you persevere through the common hurdles that writers encounter, ensuring your project’s completion.
In this free Webinar on 5 Steps to Planning & Publishing a Best-Selling Book, Brian Tracy, best-selling author of 80+ books, demonstrates his non-fiction writing techniques for choosing a book topic and title.
You’ll discover his signature methodology for outlining the content and chapters of your book to expedite your writing process and learn why the book-planning process is the most important step.
#4. Consult a book writing coach
Engaging an expert book consultant prior to embarking on your writing journey is imperative. This preemptive step provides valuable insights into the types of books readers are currently seeking and aligns your work with the preferences of publishers.
By gaining a clear understanding of market trends and demands, you position yourself for greater success in the competitive world of publishing. A writer who is passionate about what they write is more likely to become a bestselling author, but passion can only take you so far.
It can help to know which literary tropes to avoid or what sort of books are selling right now, and this is the sort of advice that a book coach or literary agent can offer. Indeed, consulting with a book publisher who specializes in a specific genre, like romance novels, can yield invaluable advice.
They possess unique insights into the ever-evolving landscape of the genre, providing guidance on trending topics and themes that resonate with the reading audience. Expert counsel from a literary agent can enhance the appeal and marketability of your manuscript in a competitive literary realm.
#5. Join a writing class & community
Delving into literature within your preferred genre can serve as a masterclass in storytelling. It immerses you in diverse narrative styles, character development, and plot structures, sparking inspiration and understanding.
Unlock the art of storytelling with MasterClass writing courses led by renowned authors. These classes offer invaluable insights into crafting compelling narratives, refining your style, and navigating the publishing industry.
Learning from accomplished authors empowers aspiring writers to hone their skills, and gain invaluable insights into the nuances of crafting a captivating and successful narrative within their chosen genre.
Forge a disciplined writing routine, designating both a specific time and a dedicated space for your literary endeavors. Initiate your creative process with a daily word count objective, even if it’s modest.
The unwavering commitment to this routine, day after day, is the cornerstone of prolific and consistent writing progress.
Become an active member of writing groups, workshops, or virtual communities to harness the power of constructive feedback. BookCamp’s mentoring and community hub offers writers the training, feedback, encouragement, and accountability they need to get their books into the world.
These forums provide a platform where fellow writers offer valuable insights and critiques. Embracing such feedback serves as a catalyst for continuous improvement, sharpening your writing skills and elevating your craft.
Brian Tracy’s Free 20-Step Author Quick Start Guide offers essential tips for efficiently structuring your book, clandestine exercises to enhance your writing pace, and a straightforward strategy for swiftly delivering your manuscript into the hands of publishers, expediting your path to authorship.
#6. Write your book outline or plot
Structuring your book is like building a strong foundation. In fiction, plotting key events and character arcs ensures a compelling narrative. In non-fiction, organizing chapters with clear main ideas enhances readability and comprehension.
Both approaches provide a roadmap, guiding your readers or characters through a meaningful journey. As an aspiring author, it’s helpful to know that there are two types of authors so you can understand which one you are:
- Plotters are writers who need an outline to write
- Pantsers are writers who write spontaneously “by the seat of their pants”
Whether you’re a plotter or a pantser, a good place to start is by coming up with an outline or synopsis of your story and then drafting a table of contents. If you’re writing fiction, it’s important to start out with your book plot and learn how to write a novel outline.
Even Pantsers need some kind of structure to their book, and whether you’re writing fiction or non-fiction, you must learn how to write a book outline or plot first. A well-defined and robust plot constitutes a fundamental element in the creation of a book with publishing potential.
Books marred by poor writing or lacking a coherent structure often struggle to secure publication and are less likely to ascend to bestseller status. Plot clarity is the cornerstone of literary success.
Before you begin writing, use this free novel writing guide to plan out your narrative arc, and key plot points, flesh out your characters and begin to build your world so that when you begin your writing journey, you’ll have a map to guide you.
In the video below, Abbie Emmons explains how to write a novel for beginners, and also offers a free 3-act “writing a book outline template” on her blog.
#7. Leverage AI story-writing tools
If you’re stuck for ideas, you can get inspiration for a story from an AI story generator that will help you write an outline, either for a fiction or nonfiction book. Once you have a good idea of the structure and flow of your book, you can start writing the individual chapters.
Sudowrite’s AI story-writer tool proves invaluable in combating writer’s block. Begin by providing a concise story summary in a few sentences.
This ingenious tool then analyzes your writing prompt and seamlessly continues the narrative, serving as a wellspring of inspiration to reignite your creative flow when you find yourself stuck.
Sudowrite’s Characters tool is a valuable asset for authors seeking to build a compelling cast for their story or seamlessly introduce new characters.
By inputting a line describing your story and a few sample characters, it proficiently generates a list of potential characters, streamlining the creative process and enriching your narrative ensemble.
The Sudowrite Twists feature is an innovative tool that not only aids in generating plot twists but also excels in crafting unexpected narrative turns that skillfully subvert expectations within the context of your story. It enhances storytelling by infusing fresh and surprising elements into your narrative landscape.
When writing a non-fiction book, like a how-to guide, Jasper’s AI Author Workflow offers an efficient approach. Begin by outlining your content, then leverage this tool to expedite the creation of an authoritative non-fiction book.
Jasper’s AI capabilities streamline the process, enabling you to produce valuable content swiftly and effectively. Unlock the secrets of rapid book publication with Darby Rollins’ innovative method, harnessing the power of the Jasper AI writing assistant.
In just seven days, this approach takes you from a blank page to a published work available on Amazon, offering a streamlined and efficient path to realize your literary aspirations.
Embrace the beauty of imperfection in your initial draft. The primary objective is to capture your ideas and story’s essence. Remember, writing is a process.
Perfection emerges through revision and editing. So, allow your creativity to flow without restraint, knowing that the raw material can be polished into a literary gem in subsequent drafts.
#8. Edit and proofread your manuscript
Following the completion of your initial draft, grant it a temporal reprieve before revisitation. This distancing offers a fresh perspective. Then edit meticulously, enhancing clarity, ensuring coherence, refining grammar, and refining your unique style.
Harness the formidable power of AI-driven writing tools to elevate your proofreading and editing process. Sculpt your prose into a symphony of words that flows effortlessly, devoid of the discordant notes of grammatical errors and typographical blunders, ultimately crafting a literary masterpiece.
ProWritingAid’s writing enhancement software stands as the pinnacle for book editing as the sole platform uniting elite grammar and style analysis with comprehensive reports, a veritable compass guiding you toward fortifying your writing prowess.
Every author needs an unbiased critique of their book, and you may benefit from the unvarnished opinion of an experienced, professional book editor, whose discerning eye can illuminate your work’s full potential, a crucial step in crafting a polished manuscript.
Leverage the power of free book writing software tailored for novice writers, designed to facilitate the creation and editing of your literary masterpiece.
While book writing coaches may differ in their recommended proofreading frequencies, it’s advisable to read through your manuscript a minimum of three times to ensure its refinement and perfection.
For authors seeking professional assistance, from writing and editing to publishing and promotion, freelancers on Fiverr’s book publishing service platform offer a diverse array of skills to simplify the complex process of bringing a book to life.
#9. Contact a book publisher
In the pursuit of traditional publishing, it’s prudent to ascertain the topics that publishers are currently seeking.
You can glean valuable insights from authoritative printed resources such as the up-to-date Writer’s Market Guide. This knowledge arms aspiring authors with a strategic advantage in aligning their work with publisher preferences.
With your meticulously proofread and edited manuscript in hand, you’re now poised to submit your literary work to book agents or publishing firms.
This pivotal step necessitates the crafting of a polished query letter and a winning book proposal, marking the threshold to potential publication and literary success.
Unlock the secrets of book writing and the art of crafting a compelling book proposal for publication through a free course led by Lisa Tener, a renowned and award-winning book writing coach.
In the absence of a pre-existing list of book agents or publishers, platforms like QueryTracker can facilitate the search for the ideal literary agent or publisher tailored to your specific genre, streamlining the process of finding the perfect match for your manuscript.
Before reaching out to an agent or publisher, prepare a compelling package: a synopsis, select manuscript chapters, and a well-crafted query letter.
Ensure these elements are primed and polished, for they serve as your literary ambassador, leaving a lasting impression on potential advocates in the publishing world.
Consider enlisting the guidance of a seasoned book writing coach, one who offers comprehensive book coaching and mentoring services.
With their expertise, you can receive invaluable assistance in crafting a compelling book proposal and navigating the entire journey of publishing, from inception to completion.
#10. Consider self-publishing
So, how much money can you make writing a book? Surprisingly, independent authors often outearn their traditionally published counterparts.
If securing a traditional book deal with an agent or publisher seems elusive or less rewarding, self-publishing on Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) offers a viable alternative worth exploring.
Navigating the dynamic world of book publishing can be complex, but fear not. Delve into this complimentary eBook, “How To Go From First Draft To Published Author,” a comprehensive guide that will accompany you on the entire journey from refining your manuscript to charting the ideal publishing route.
Mark Dawson’s Self Publishing Launchpad is a meticulously crafted Masterclass offering a profound and exhaustive roadmap for authors. It eliminates the ambiguity from the process of publishing your book, ensuring it reaches the eager hands of new readers.
Learning how to start writing a book, and more importantly, how to be a good writer, is not easy, but it’s definitely worth it.
The moment you hold a published copy of your own book in your hands, the culmination of hard work and dedication, is an indescribable and fulfilling experience, making every effort along the way truly worthwhile.
How do you start a book?
There are many ways to start a book and there is no single formula for how to start a book. While it depends on the type of book, the most important thing is to start in a way that engages your readers and makes them want to keep reading.
When you’re figuring out how to start to write a book, try to avoid dry exposition or overwhelming detail in your opening pages. Instead, think about how your opening chapter can hook your readers right from the start and make them want to know more.
If it’s a novel, you might start with a character or scene that is likely to intrigue your reader. If it’s non-fiction, you might want to begin with the main question you’re trying to answer or the problem you’re trying to solve.
But even a non-fiction book can start with an intriguing story that raises questions you can answer in later chapters. Malcolm Gladwell, a master of creative nonfiction, often uses storytelling as a way to introduce his in-depth research and findings.
Some writers prefer to plunge right in and begin with action, while others prefer to establish the setting and characters first. There are pros and cons to both methods.
But generally, there are a few things that all good beginnings have in common: they hook the reader’s attention and make them want to keep reading, establish the tone and style of the book, and introduce the main characters and plot.
Delve into the world of character creation with the invaluable guidance of the free “Creating Legends eBook.” It will impart the skills necessary to craft characters who captivate readers through their actions, motivations, and rich personal histories, ensuring that your literary creations are compelling, engaging, and relatable.
Some popular techniques include introducing the characters, setting the scene, or beginning with a dramatic event. Another popular way to start a book is by introducing a conflict or problem that the main characters must solve.
Sometimes the best way to start a book can be something as simple as a crime that needs solving, a mystery that needs unraveling, or it could be something more complex like a family drama or political intrigue.
Starting with action can be thrilling for readers, who will want to keep turning the pages to see what happens next. However, it can also be confusing if the reader doesn’t know who the characters are or what’s going on.
Establishing the setting and characters first can help ground readers in the story world and make it easier for them to follow along. However, it can make for a slower start. So don’t forget to introduce the conflict or problem that will drive the story forward.
You could start with the character’s back story, with a scene that sets the tone or captures the reader’s attention, or even with a prologue. No matter how you approach it, the most important thing is to make sure your beginning engages readers and draws them into your story.
You want them to want to know what happens next, so they’ll keep reading. And it’s always important to keep your ending in mind while you’re writing the beginning – you don’t want to give away too much too soon.
Often the best way to start writing a book is with a question or a statement that hooks the reader’s attention. The most important thing is to make sure the opening scene is intriguing and sets the tone for the rest of the story.
Here are some captivating book opening lines:
- “It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.” – George Orwell, “1984”
- “Call me Ishmael.” – Herman Melville, “Moby-Dick”
- “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness…” – Charles Dickens, “A Tale of Two Cities”
- “It was a pleasure to burn.” – Ray Bradbury, “Fahrenheit 451”
- “In my younger and more vulnerable years my father gave me some advice that I’ve been turning over in my mind ever since.” – F. Scott Fitzgerald, “The Great Gatsby”
- “You don’t know about me without you have read a book by the name of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, but that ain’t no matter.” – Mark Twain, “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn”
- “I am an invisible man.” – Ralph Ellison, “Invisible Man”
- “Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendía was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice.” – Gabriel García Márquez, “One Hundred Years of Solitude”
- “Far out in the uncharted backwaters of the unfashionable end of the Western Spiral arm of the Galaxy lies a small unregarded yellow sun.” – Douglas Adams, “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”
These opening lines have a way of immediately grabbing the reader’s attention and setting the tone for the rest of the book.
Remember to focus on creating a strong plot and engaging characters that will keep readers hooked until the very end. You may want to consider using strong adjectives and vivid images to create a cinematic experience for your audience.
You can start learning how to write the beginning of a book by reading books written by authors in the same genre as you, and studying how they approach the material in a creative writing MasterClass.
How to write realistic and compelling plotlines
Here are some ways to ensure that your plotlines remain realistic and compelling.
- Start with a strong premise: A well-thought-out premise can help anchor your story and give it direction. It should be specific and interesting enough to sustain a whole novel.
- Have a clear goal or conflict: Having a clear goal or conflict for your characters to work towards can help give your plot direction and keep it focused.
- Use real-world rules and consequences: Try to ensure that the events in your story follow the laws of nature and have real consequences. This can help make your plot feel more believable.
- Develop your characters: Well-developed characters can make a story more interesting and engaging. Spend time thinking about your characters’ motivations, desires, conflicts, and flaws, and let these drive their actions and decisions in the plot.
- Use conflict to drive the plot: Conflict is an essential element of any story, as it gives the characters something to work towards or against. Use conflict to create tension and keep the plot moving forward. Without them, your story may feel flat and unengaging.
- Use believable dialogue: Realistic dialogue can help ground your story and make it feel more authentic. Avoid using jargon or slang that might not be familiar to your readers.
- Show, don’t tell: Instead of simply telling the reader what’s happening, try to show the events of the story through action and dialogue. This can help make the plot more immersive and engaging.
- Leave room for surprise: While it’s important to have a clear direction for your plot, try to leave room for the unexpected. Plot twists can add an element of surprise and keep your readers guessing. However, make sure to use them sparingly and in a way that makes sense within the context of your story.
- Use descriptive language: Descriptive language can help bring your story to life and make it more immersive for your readers. However, it’s best to avoid extravagant, ornate writing (otherwise called purple prose) which can make your story difficult to read and understand.
- Get feedback: Consider sharing your work with others, such as beta readers or writing groups, to get feedback and suggestions for improving the realism and compelling nature of your plot.
If you enjoyed this article on how to start writing a book for beginners, you can find step-by-step guidelines for writing a book in these free writing classes by bestselling authors.
Also, check out the book writing tips for beginners below, for more advice on how to start writing a book for the first time, and subscribe to this free video training for authors to help you get your first 10,000 readers.
Book writing tips for beginners
- Free Book Writing Classes & Creative Writing Courses
- Best Creative Writing Masterclasses By Masterclass Authors
- Best AI Story Generator & AI Poem Generator Tools
- Best Book Writing Software & Writing Apps for Creative Writers
- 7 Tips for Overcoming and Dealing With Writer’s Block
- 10 Steps to Write and Publish a Low-Content Book
- 7 Habits Of The Most Successful Writers & Famous Authors
- How To Write Catchy Book Titles & Compelling Book Content
- How To Learn Creative Writing & Become a Better Writer
- Amazon KDP Publishing Tips & Checklist To Self-Publish On Kindle
- How To Write A Bestseller: Writing A Book That Sells
- How To Become A Book Writer Without Writing A Book
- BookTok For Authors: How To Sell More Books On TikTok
- 5 Book Marketing Strategies For Self-Published Authors
- How To Boost Book Sales With Advertising For Authors
© 2021 – 2023, Priya Florence Shah. All rights reserved.
Priya Florence Shah is a bestselling author, an award-winning online publisher, and an online branding consultant. Download her free personal branding eBooks and check out Devi2Diva, her book on emotional self-care for women. In her spare time, Priya writes science-fiction novels and poetry and chills with her two-legged and four-legged kids.