by Angela Lauria February 2, 2024
Do you know how to write a book? Most people don’t. Most people know how to fill 200 pages with words, but they haven’t been taught how to start writing a book and, because of that, they make mistakes. Lots of them. How you prepare for writing your book will determine its success.
There are simple things that experienced authors know that will dramatically improve your chance of finishing your book, and have it fulfill your intention for writing it.
A book is the fulfillment of a purpose. It takes the reader on a journey and has a clear intention to produce a desired result.
After watching more than 1,800 authors go from idea to published bestseller, we have seen these mistakes over and over again. But in our program, we make sure you don’t have to learn them the hard way. Here are the three biggest mistakes new authors make when learning how to start writing a book, and what you can do to avoid them.
Mistake #1: Starting by Writing
Do you know that feeling of pushing and pushing your writing but secretly feeling like it should be easier than it is? Most people blame their motivation. When they aren’t writing the book they want, they apply more pressure to write. Then they strap themselves to their chair, and think “I need to buckle down and just do it!”
One of the biggest mistakes new authors make when learning how to start writing a book is they buckle up before they’ve really done the work. They don’t know where the car is going.
The result of this is not just catastrophic for your book, but also for your mental health. Starting with writing is why there are so many clichés about writers who never finish their books. It’s why they spend months, even years torturing themselves during the writing process.
We as writers and people change rapidly. If we stretch the writing of a book out over the course of years, not only will the book not flow because its author has changed, but we will drive ourselves mad trying to edit and rewrite the parts that don’t feel right anymore.
The Truth about Writing before Planning
Before you write, you must know and understand the intention of your book. What is the result you are hoping to achieve? How do you want the reader to be different once they’ve finished it? What actions do you want the reader to take to engage with you?
This may sound callous to artists who want to do art for art’s sake, but even that’s an intention. Some books are written for the pure joy of writing a book. So why are you writing your book?
Having an intention is like having a destination, and without it, you will get lost. Maybe the intention of your book is to generate leads for your business. Or maybe it’s to serve a specific group of people who have an issue you can solve by speaking to their groups. Maybe it’s to build your list so you have a platform to share your message. Maybe it’s to position yourself as an expert so when someone has an issue in your subject matter, they call you first.
Whatever the intention, make it clear and spend time thinking about it. It’s part of sharpening your ax.
What else should you do before writing? Having an intention is just one of the ten steps. Actually sitting down to write the book doesn’t happen until step seven. For a complete outline of the 10-steps, checkout The Difference: Ten Steps To Writing A Book That Matters.
Mistake #2: Trying to Appeal to Everyone
So often authors write books with the goal in mind of appealing to everyone. We censor ourselves. We make it applicable to everyone. Because we are afraid that if we don’t make it applicable to everyone then it won’t be successful.
The opposite is true. A book that makes a difference is a book that is written with one specific ideal reader in mind.
The Truth behind Appealing to Everyone
There is no way to write a book that really makes a difference unless you can identify a single ideal reader and write a book that gets into their heart and soul. You write a book for this person, instead of writing a book to everyone. This is how to be of service.
With your ideal reader in your mind and heart write a vulnerable, all-out love letter to her. Serve her powerfully by showing her you understand her problem intimately. Then, share a solution that will make a difference in her life.
Mistake #3: Beginning to Write without a Plan to Get the Book into the Reader’s Hands
We talk about writing a book that makes a difference. For a book to make a difference two things are required. First it must have a powerful message of hope, healing, transformation, or change. Second, it must get into people’s hands and hearts. The best book sitting in a box in someone’s basement or behind an unclicked link on Amazon is not going to matter to anyone. It won’t help, transform or reshape anything. Writing alone is not sufficient to make a difference.
In order to make a difference you have to first understand what you want the book to do for you and your business.
For example, if the goal of the book is building an email list, how is this book going to drive the reader to join? What prompts go through the book to get the reader to do that? How does the reader who wants to get more information, hear more or see your videos go from reading the book to engaging with your website?
If the book is about client creation, how do you get 10% of your readers to go beyond the words on the page and into a direct engagement with you to become your client?
If the book is about speaking opportunities and writing opportunities, how do you structure the book so that people who are looking for speakers and writers can see your potential on stage through the chapters of your book?
The Truth behind Marketing
By correctly planning and writing with your goal clearly in mind, you will write a book that produces the desired outcome for the reader; you will be able to make the difference you want to make in the world. For example if you sell 10,000 copies of your book in its lifetime, and 3,000 of its readers join your email list, or 300 contact you for strategy sessions, or 30 speaking opportunities come to you as a result, then you have 30, 300, or 3,000 opportunities to impact people in a meaningful way as the result of your book.
By writing a book first then planning your outcome, it will do little to help you achieve your goal. You will be lucky if 0.1% of your readers go further than reading your book and engage with you.
The reason so many new authors make these mistakes is because no one was taught how to write a book. And there are few programs out there that really know how to set you up for success. Most authors learn it the hard way and some never learn it at all.
If you want to write a book that makes a difference in peoples’ lives, gets you your results, and doesn’t take a herculean effort to write, you owe it to yourself to first learn from the mistakes of the authors that have gone before you.
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