If you’re writing a nonfiction book, you’ve probably already heard this advice—write a proposal before you write your book. The foremost reason to start with a proposal is that, if you’re pitching to an agent or publisher, a proposal delivers the most pertinent information about your project in the shortest amount of reading time. In a few pages you can lay out your goals for the book, your credentials, and how you fit into the current market. This allows agents and publishers to determine if and where you’d fit into their current list more quickly than if they have to dig for the information themselves.
Bloggers make great candidates for book writers. They already have a wealth of content to draw from, know who their audience is, and more often than not, already have a platform. So for bloggers who have built a loyal following in their industry, a book may be the next logical step.
Any author will tell you: Writing is a long and arduous process. After you have brainstormed ideas for your subject matter and then completed your detailed outline, it’s time to begin your prose. You know what you planned to talk about, and you want your articulation, punctuation, rhythm, and descriptions to be perfect. But this can be intimidating. You might find yourself writing and rewriting your first chapter or even your first few paragraphs over and over again. You might find yourself stuck.
When you first decided you wanted to write a book, you probably pictured it flowing freely from you, the muse speaking through you about your particular topic of expertise. In a perfect world, this would be the case. Unfortunately, and more realistically, this “muse approach” rarely works. Writing a book is difficult—even for the most experienced of authors. A strong outline can be one of the most useful tools you can use to get you through the writing process. Unlike the muse, who can be a tad fickle, your outline will always be there.
You did it! You’re a published author. It was a long road, full of twists and turns and the unexpected, but you came out the other side and can now find your book among the other titles you’ve admired for years. There are things you probably wish you’d known at the beginning of this process that you know now. Some advice from your future, published self to your past, unpublished self might include the following:
- Your book will not be what you envisioned; it will be better.
- The publishing process will take longer than you think.
- There are more moving parts to the process than you imagine.
If you’ve found a publisher for your book (or think you may soon have one), you may be wondering what your responsibilities will look like once your manuscript is with your editor. After all, now that the book is in the hands of experts, the author's work is done, right? In truth, this is where the real fun begins.
Stephen King once wrote, “Kill your darlings, kill your darlings, even when it breaks your egocentric little scribbler’s heart, kill your darlings.” This is advice often given to writers. It means you should get rid of your most cherished and self-indulgent passages for the good of your prose. But maybe that’s a bit extreme. Maybe you don’t have to kill your darlings; maybe they just need to be turned into responsible adults.
Once your manuscript is complete, you may find yourself reading and rereading it, constantly making tweaks or rearranging small pieces of the text or rewording your never-quite-right prose. It may seem like it will never be perfect. Guess what. It won’t. But it’ll never be done either unless you let it go.