How do you write a book?
One of the questions that the writers in my Just Write! No Excuses Virtual Summer Bootcamp (doors now closed!) are asking is, “How do you start writing a book?” Other than finishing, the getting started is often the hardest part of writing a book.
I’ll share how I wrote my last book, The Hands of a Woman: Everyday Women In Everyday Battles.
First, in my quiet time I was reading the Bible (I believe this is where we start!), from the book of Judges Chapters 4 and 5, about Deborah, the judge and prophetess, and Jael, a tentmaker’s wife who killed the captain of the enemy army Sisera, with a tent peg and a hammer.
God spoke to me that we are to use the weapons that are in our hands. I felt this applied to my gifts of speaking, writing, and coaching to achieve online business success. I studied Judges 4 and 5 to learn Biblical principles of success and leadership.
Second, as the seed of the Word of God germinated in my heart, I began praying about exactly what to write. The main idea was to be that we have victory over adversity through faith in Jesus Christ.
God showed me this book was to be a compilation of stories from women – their greatest spiritual battles and how God helped them to overcome and be victorious in Him.
God then spoke to me who to invite to be a part of this book project. I emailed the women, explained the book that God was birthing in my heart, and asked them to pray about a joint venture with me.
I didn’t have an affiliate program and I wasn’t able to pay them to be part of this JV, but I believed God would bless them for sharing their story. Their stories would be a powerful testimony to God. I would give them a free copy of the book in exchange for them sharing the story.
Third, I outlined the chapters for the book, something I normally don’t do. I usually just start writing a book with a main idea. But this book would be my biggest undertaking yet in writing. It was going to be much longer than my previous book on prayer, Walking With God (a book on the basics of prayer). It was also going to be “meat” vs. “milk,” so the writing would be harder.
I needed a framework for the book before I began writing. For every woman who had said yes to the JV, I wrote a chapter title including the contributing author’s name and the possible topic I believed she might be sharing.
Fourth, I asked my husband Ray Jones to write the introduction to the book. Since Ray spent over 15 years in the military, is a licensed minister/pastor, is practiced in the ministry of deliverance, and is very knowledgeable about physical and spiritual warfare, I felt he was the perfect person to write the intro.
Fifth, while he wrote the introduction, I worked on chapter 1 and the final chapter, waiting on the stories from the contributing authors. These stories slowly came in, so I had to practice patience! The stories are amazing and were so worth the wait! You can buy the book by clicking here.
Sixth, I hired an attorney. An editor/publisher expressed interest in the book project idea, but winded up backing out at the last minute due to her own work overload. However, she introduced me to her attorney and strongly encouraged me to speak with the attorney before going to print to protect my own interests, since I had contributing authors for this book project.
She herself had experienced legal difficulties when she co-authored a book with a friend and she didn’t want something similar happening to me. She exhorted me to make sure I had contracts signed with each author before the book was published. I contacted and hired the attorney, who mailed each contributing author the contract.
Seventh, I wrote the book, fleshing out the chapters. While waiting on the contracts, I read the contributing authors’ stories and expanded on them, adding my own thoughts to the chapters. I also wrote one chapter (Chapter 9), sharing part of my own story. The end result of these stories was beautiful. The book was pulled together, chapter by chapter, into a beautiful tapestry, that displayed God’s glory – His redeeming, faithful work in each woman’s life. The women underwent painful trials such as:
- panic attacks
- a drug-addicted spouse
- being a victim of 2 bank robberies
- a child killed in a car wreck
- childhood sexual and physical abuse
- domestic violence
- demonic oppression
- the death of a baby.
Eighth, I chose my POD (Print On Demand) company for physically printing the book. I self-published through Vervante, a POD company. With my upcoming book, Promises In The Dark (due for release by June 30, 2014), I’m going with a new POD company, Heritage Press.
Ninth, I had my book launch, which included:
- sharing about my book’s release with family and friends;
- a Facebook party to promote the book;
- promoting the book to my subscriber list;
- giving away the book in a contest at my website;
- asking my friends and biz peers to help me promote it to their lists and peeps;
- using the amazing platform of social media to promote it;
- hosting a free webinar and telecall to celebrate the book’s release;
- speaking at live events to promote it.
Just a few months later, a woman found me and my website by googling speakers and writers online, in searching for a resource for her church’s Bible study that she would be teaching. Since I don’t believe in accidents, I believe this was a divine appointment – that God had led her to my site!
She bulk ordered the book (50 books!), taught the Bible study using my book as the guide, and God used the stories in the book to minister to the heart of the women at that church. Today God continues to use the transparent, painful and yet triumphant stories in the book for His glory.
Hire a professional graphic designer and formatter!
The only thing I’d add to this list of how to write a book is to use Spell Check and edit your final manuscript several times, then hire a professional graphic designer, editor, and formatter so that your book will be an excellent product. You don’t want something that looks cheaply made and half-baked.
I highly recommend Christine Dupre’ as your graphic designer to create your front cover, back cover, and spine for your physically printed book and Hanne Moon as your editor/formatter and her company Heritage Press to physically print your book. She also provides a service to upload your book to Amazon, to be available for sale as an Ebook on Kindle.
Finally, when you first get the book idea is the best time to begin promoting it – not the day it is available online for sale! This is a very natural way of marketing, sharing about your book writing process, from start to finish.
Your fans/peeps will be interested to know what you are working on now and how your book is coming along, and it will make them hungry and thirsty to read the book. They’ll be excited watching your progress and will celebrate with you when the book is launched – and might even help you with the launch and promotion!
When you write your book, you won’t need to do everything I did in writing The Hands of A Woman: Everyday Women in Everyday Battles.
For example, you probably won’t need to hire an attorney, unless there are legal concerns. You might write your own intro. You may choose traditional publishing over self-publishing (both have pros and cons). But the important thing is this: Just write. No Excuses!
How wonderful that you documented each of these steps to help others to write their books! (And this is a great book that will inspire many women to draw closer to the Lord through difficulties.)
Thank you so much, Susan! I wish I’d had a guide like this when I first started! 😀 Thank you for that word of encouragement and I receive that. Loved that you were such an important part and contributing author to this book! 😀 Your chapter was great!
Love this really helped me
Thank you, Stephanie! So glad it helped!