Writing a great book is simply the cost of admission

18.08.2016 |

Episode #2 of the course How to self-publish a book by Emmanuel Nataf


Welcome back! Today’s lesson is all about writing a great book. It doesn’t have to be the greatest book ever written, but as long as it appeals to a certain audience enough for them to write a good review, or recommend to a friend, you will be well on your way to finding success.

In the self-publishing world, there are anomalies: objectively terrible books which sell plenty of copies simply because the author is a skilled marketer. But who in their right mind sets out to write a bad book? Not you, I’m sure ;)

I won’t bore you with a list of hard-and-fast rules for what constitutes a good book. That being said, I’d love to point out some common habits shared by the most prolific and successful writers:

Read a lot of books
A good book teaches you a lot about writing. Read every book that has enjoyed critical acclaim and popularity in your genre, and try to analyze what makes these books different. Pay attention to things like the story, plot structure, and characterization. Go back to your own draft and see if you can apply your learnings.

Make sure you have a plan
If you’re writing a novel, it’s often a good idea to “plot” your story beforehand. Chart how one event leads to another, which then causes a third thing to happen: you know, the story.

Diving into your first draft without a thoroughly developed structure will make it difficult to keep track of how your story progresses. When you’re dealing with tens of thousands of words, the last thing you want is to get overwhelmed and stop writing!

Know your audience
Are you writing for a young audience? For business professionals? Will they be fans of Dan Brown or Noam Chomsky? Knowing who your book is aimed at will not only help you choose the right tone and content, it will prove invaluable once you kick off your marketing efforts.

Give yourself deadlines
Do not get stuck in an endless loop of incessantly editing a chapter. We’re not saying that you should rush; merely suggesting you give your book the time it deserves by making sure you maintain a steady level of productivity. The National Novel Writing Month, where hundreds of participants write over 50,000 words in one month, is a perfect example of how clear goals and deadlines can do wonders for your writing process.

That’s all for today! Tomorrow we’ll be looking at something that will make or break your book: editing.


Recommended reading

“Two Types of Writers: Plotters and Pantsers” by Amanda Wills


Recommended book

“Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life” by Anne Lamott


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