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How to Easily Write a Book

Updated on February 15, 2014
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The truth is, the title of this article is a bit misleading. There is nothing truly easy about writing a book. It is a commitment of time, energy, brain power, and a bit of money (but just a little). Sometimes getting through that first one is the hardest part.

You feel overwhelmed at the whole process and think- I could never do this. You can, and I will explain the easiest way to write a book. Keep in mind, it's not going to be Dickens. It might not even be any good. But it will be a book.

Find your idea

If you have an idea for a book, great. Write it down in one sentence. If you don't have an idea for a book, you can come up with some ideas by running through plot summaries of old movies. In fact, this novelist has a great little exercise you can do in a matter of minutes.

Once you have an idea, you must write it out in several different ways.

  1. Write the whole summary of the book in one sentence.
  2. Then expand it to an entire paragraph.
  3. Then make a list of all the main events that must happen in order to get to the end.

Outline your story

There are a million methods for outlining a book, and some people even just dive into a book without a plan! That is not recommended if you have never written a book. Outlining your story gives you a road map for writing. These are a few methods that different writers use.

  1. The snowflake method- The idea is that you start with one point of the snowflake and write out a sentence. The second end of the snowflake becomes a whole paragraph about that sentence. The next point takes each sentence of the paragraph and turns them into a page of information. You continue to build your story with your plot lines and character development.
  2. The story goal method- Here you outline your story with a basic understanding of what it takes to pull a reader in. You need signposts or events that keep the story moving. You need an opposing line of events that prevent the story from getting to the end the character wants. You also develop your archetypal characters, decide if your story is a comedy or a tragedy (this changes the structure entirely) and develop setting.
  3. The note card method- Write out scenes on note cards. Come up with as many as you can and then arrange them in a way that makes sense for the story. You can also make note cards to flesh out the characters' personalities.

Write

This is the hardest part. Sit down and write. Do it every day even if it is only for a few minutes. Aim for a goal. The average fiction book is between 60-90,000 words. If you write 1000 words a day, you'll have a rough manuscript in about three months.

You can also sign up for writing challenges like NaNoWriMo. This is a great idea for a first time writer. It is a challenge for the month of November- 50,000 words in 30 days. It forces you to write without thinking about revision or editing- a process that kills creativity.

Revising a manuscript is a lot of work, but it should not be done during the development of the manuscript. First you must write without any thought to criticism.

Revise

Revision is hard work. In a lot of cases, it takes multiple readings before the book is ready for publishing. Try following this easy outline to ensure you've done your best editing.

1. Read the book through and look for character issues, plot holes, and big story problems. Fix them.
2. Print the manuscript out and read it carefully, circling any spelling, grammar, or left over plot mistakes.
3. Read the entire book OUT LOUD so your ear can catch problems and errors you may have missed.
4. Read it one more time and proofread it. This time you are checking for proper structure (paragraph indentations, page numbers, font sizes, etc.)

Send it out

Here is the part where you have other people read your novel or book and look for problems. Give each reader a specific assignment. Have one person read it and tell you any spot that is tedious or boring. Have another one read it simply to spot grammar errors. And then have another one read it for overall plot integrity. Take their feedback and adjust accordingly.

Publish

Technically this is the last step, but it is really the first step of a whole other process. Since this is an article about the "easy" way to write a book, self-publishing is the guaranteed way to get it on the market. If you choose to go the traditional route, that is a long process of querying agents and waiting for a book deal. I am not going to write about that.

Also, self-publishing is an ENORMOUS market as well. Do you want your book in print or only as an e-book? There are a million different sites to publish. For the purposes of this article, I will stick to the easiest method....

A self-published e-book on Amazon, the world's largest bookseller.

Screenshot of my KDP dashboard.
Screenshot of my KDP dashboard. | Source

Should I enroll in KDP select?

KDP select is a 90 day program where you promise that you will only sell your book on Amazon. In return, Amazon gives you 5 free promotional days to use. This allows you to offer your book for free and it usually jumpstarts a LOT of downloads. This in turn moves your book up the ranks in Amazon, helping to boost sales and viewership.

KDP select also gives PRIME members the opportunity to borrow it for free. You as the author, will still get a commission or royalty for every book borrowed. For new writers, KDP select is a good option to get your book out there.

I played around with a lot of options before I chose one for my latest book.
I played around with a lot of options before I chose one for my latest book. | Source

Sign up for KDP

This is Amazon's Kindle Direct Program.

  1. Go to http://kdp.amazon.com. Register with your current Amazon account or create a new one.
  2. You will arrive at your dashboard. Since you don't have any books published yet, you won't see the titles, but you should have an orange button that says ADD NEW TITLE. Click it.
  3. Your very first option is to enroll the book in KDP select. Click it if you decide you want to enroll. Otherwise, proceed.
  4. Fill in all the book details, like title, description, and author. These can be edited later again, but try to make everything perfect the first time around. Every time you change something on Amazon, it takes 24 hours for the changes to take effect.
  5. Now it is time to categorize your book. This is extremely important as it will be the main way other people find it. Amazon allows you to choose two categories and seven keywords. Think about these long and hard before you write just anything down.
  6. Upload your book cover. If you want easy and fast and don't have photo editing software available, go to http://www.myecovermaker.com and sign up for an account. You can still use your own image, but it will format it properly for a book cover. To download your image costs $4.95.
  7. Upload your book file. However, before you do this step, you must make sure it is in the proper format for Kindle.

Formatting your document for kindle

How your book appears on Kindle will depend on how cleanly you wrote it in the first place. If you used a lot of tabs, manual spaces, weird fonts, or other strange markings, your document will not look clean. Also, did you insert page breaks in between chapters? This is another thing new writers miss. To insert a page break, go to insert, and select new page.

Certain devices will automatically indent new paragraphs for you, so you don't even need to use the tab. Other devices will not. This part can be tedious because you must save your book, upload it, preview it, and then make changes to the original if it doesn't look the way you want.

I am going to assume most of you are working in Microsoft Word or Google Documents. The first thing you have to do is save your document as an HTML file. Simply go to save as and choose the webpage document option. This will save it in the proper format.

Now you can upload the file to KDP.

Read your book in the Kindle previewer

Once your file is uploaded, read it in the previewer. You'll be amazed at the errors you find once you are scanning through it on a device. There are multiple preview options including reading it on the iPhone, the Kindle Fire, iPad, or on a free Kindle App. At this point, you may want to pull your hair out because the whole idea of "easy" seems to have flown out the window. Stick with it. You are almost there.

Choose your price

Once you are happy with your cover and file, hit save and continue. Here is where you determine the price. Amazon gives authors a 35% royalty for any book under $2.99. Books listed $2.99 or higher will get 70% royalties.

You do have the option to list your book at whatever price you wish, but if it is too expensive, Amazon may automatically lower the price. In the e-book market, books are rarely listed over $10.00, with the average book being a mere $2.99!

Hit that button!

Ready, set, go! Hit publish! You will have to wait approximately 24-48 hours before it will appear in the Kindle Amazon Store. If you are in KDP select, you will have to leave it only in this market for 90 days.

To see your sales, you can go to your dashboard and hit reports. To schedule your promotional days, select the book and under actions, choose MANAGE PROMOTIONS. You can also check out the KDP forums for more information.

One last note: Every time you make a change, it will send the book back into review for several hours. During this time, any sales will still be in the old version, not the new.

Guess what? You just published a book! Maybe not easily, but as easy as can be for something that is actually...quite difficult.

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    • Ariel-Cal profile image

      Evelia Veronica Rivera 2 years ago from Bridgeport, CT

      Thanks for the tips!

    • VirginiaLynne profile image

      Virginia Kearney 2 years ago from United States

      Terrific information. I'm thinking about actually finishing a novel I started 25 years ago (on a typewriter!) and maybe just putting it out there for my own sake, if not for anyone else's. Thanks for all the information in this Hub and about writing for one month to get 50,000 words. I had looked into Amazon publishing but this helps me get started. Pinned.

    • abbaelijah profile image

      Abba Elijah aka elijagod 2 years ago from Nigeria

      Thanks for this wonderful and educative hub !

    • NiaG profile image

      NiaG 4 years ago from Louisville, KY

      Very useful hub. I have had an interest in putting together a little book. I've had selling it for Kindle through Amazon in the back of my mind for a while now. I'll hopefully take the leap later this year. Thanks!

    • chrissieklinger profile image

      chrissieklinger 4 years ago from Pennsylvania

      Great information and I will likely be coming back as I hit the different steps. I am very interested in trying the Kindle thing!

    • Nyamache profile image

      Joshua Nyamache 4 years ago from Kenya

      Writing a book isn't easy but if one is determined he/she will write it. There are many inspirations that can offer us ideas what to write about. Your book may be rejected by publishers and this doesn't necessarily mean that your book is bad. In fact, some of the books that are now selling were rejected by some publishers therefore never give up but keep on improving your writing skills. Thanks for sharing this information.

    • duffsmom profile image

      P. Thorpe Christiansen 4 years ago from Pacific Northwest, USA

      Very comprehensive. I am going to print this out and keep in in my reference materials. Well done.

    • Deborah Brooks profile image

      Deborah Brooks Langford 4 years ago from Brownsville,TX

      Julie.. thank yoiu for all the information for writing a book.. It is not an easy precess but it is worth it in the end.. when you finally get it published love your hub..

      sharing and pinning

      debbie

    • Radical Rog profile image

      Peter Rogers 4 years ago from Plymouth

      Of course, the statement made by the senior editor at one major publishing house (who shall remain nameless for obvious reasons) when this issue of writing books was being discussed.

      A remark was made that it is said that everyone has a book in them. The reply was, it would be better if most of them remained there.

      This is not to say that I agree with that comment. I just thought I'd put it out there so those starting to write their own book, to whom I will give all the encouragement I can, know what they are letting themselves in for.

      All in all, a great hub.

    • Mhatter99 profile image

      Martin Kloess 4 years ago from San Francisco

      Thank you for this information. I am formatting a book now.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 4 years ago

      Julie, our advice is priceless and your information is helpful. I have printed out as reference for when the time comes to publish my book (hopefully, before end of next year). Thank you.

    • donnah75 profile image

      Donna Hilbrandt 4 years ago from Upstate New York

      Awesome hub! I love the advice to read out loud to find errors. I give that advice to my students often. Voted up.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Well, I've been down this road several times...six Kindle books, one self-published hard copy....I did not find writing to be difficult, but I understand there are some who might. If the book is in you, it will come out. I'm not sure I agree with the whole NaNo concept, but that's a topic for another day.

      Good tips!

    • Adventure Colorad profile image

      Adventure Colorad 4 years ago from Denver,CO

      I've been thinking of publishing a book and have signed up for Amazon's Kindle Direct. I keep looking for info like this to give myself the final push to actually finish writing!

    • mpropp profile image

      Melissa Propp 4 years ago from Minnesota

      This was really helpful. I have to concentrate on the "easy" part of actually WRITING a full book, but you have great tips on that and then a nice easy explanation for the self-publishing on Amazon. Does Amazon have any kind of quality control? I mean, if it doesn't cost anything and they are not editing or proofing it, does that mean that I could literally upload a single page or something and have it published? It seems like even self-publishing should have some sort of quality control for the sake of Amazon's reputation, if nothing else.

    • alancaster149 profile image

      Alan Robert Lancaster 4 years ago from Forest Gate, London E7, U K (ex-pat Yorkshire)

      Sound advice. I'm onto writing the fourth book in my RAVENFEAST series, titled BETRAYED. So far about 110 pages (it'll be around five times that when it's finished, like the other three).

      I started writing the first, the eponymous RAVENFEAST, in notebooks and then transferring them to my laptop. Steep learning curve! Fleshing out the stories, editing them (and re-editing them still doesn't eliminate all the typos) and then e-mailing them to the publisher is just a part of the game! Wait until you get people asking you about your books when you're out, or asking you to sign them. That's where the ego-boost kicks in! Nevertheless I haven't met all that many of my readers, and jetting about the globe to sign my books isn't on the agenda - yet.

      I call myself a writer now, my own boss - although I don't need bosses now as I've retired - and not so much under pressure with book two OVERTHROWN in the public domain and three OUTCAST waiting to be published in the New Year.

      It's still a challenge, thinking in terms of an early mediaeval post-Viking era Dane in England fighting Normans. Research is necessary, not all place names are available in the Saxon Chronicle or Domesday, and nowhere north of the Tees was in Domesday. You have to think how long it would take to ride over moor and mountain, through deep snow and across swirling water in fords. It's a complete re-think from the motorised modern-day life we lead. How long would it take for an ox-waggon to reach Tadcaster from Gainsborough...?

      And it's fun (believe it or not)!

    • profile image

      chrisinhawaii 4 years ago

      "Keep in mind, it's not going to be Dickens. It might not even be any good. But it will be a book." - haha that KILLED me =)

      I was wondering what you guys were talking about with the whole "NaNoWriMo" thing on FB. My friend Pat just published his first Kindle book, and he's been encouraging me to do one too. So...maybe.

      Shared and voted up...of course.

    • Ruchira profile image

      Ruchira 4 years ago from United States

      Great advise, Julie.

      Many of the tips were new to me. Thanks once again!

    • heeyoo profile image

      heeyoo 4 years ago

      Very nice article , got a bunch of new information which was much needed for me. Trying to write a novel and stuff. Thank you for a wonderful hub and I'll surely be back to re-read some of the info.

    • Austinstar profile image

      Austinstar 4 years ago from Somewhere in the universe

      I have got to get around to this! I've been writing a novel for the past 40 years. Never got past the first chapter. Now that I am retired, I will definitely use these tips to get that damm novel finished. I also have a non-fiction book to publish someday.

      Oh time, you are a cruel master.

    • rfmoran profile image

      Russ Moran 4 years ago from Long Island, New York

      I've published two paperback non-fiction books through Createspace, Amazon's self-publishing arm. They're also on Kindle and Nook. The whole key is marketing, a key that I am still discovering. The only thing I would add to this excellent hub is to pay the money to have the book professionally edited (after input from friends and colleagues.

    • mary615 profile image

      Mary Hyatt 4 years ago from Florida

      I've never thought about writing an ebook until lately. One of my daughters started out writing an ebook ane later developed it in a book. Amazon did all the work for her. She does not market the book; therefore she hasn't had many sales.

      Good advice, Julie. I voted this UP, etc.

    • barbergirl28 profile image

      Stacy Harris 4 years ago from Hemet, Ca

      This is OUTSTANDING!!!! You definitely dumbed it down so anybody could understand the easiest option. When I was looking into it yesterday I started seeing.... well you can do this or you can do that or you can do it this way... I swear... stem was rolling out of my head! ARGGHHH!!! I was lost because I didn't want to push a bunch of buttons and just hope it turned out. Thank you so much. You are amazing!!!

    • Cathy Fidelibus profile image

      Ms. Immortal 4 years ago from NJ

      My friend is almost at the publishing end of the process. I will pass this information on to him.

      Thanks, very informative.

    • Janine Huldie profile image

      Janine Huldie 4 years ago from New York, New York

      Seriously, thank you for writing this one. I cannot say that enough and have read it through and now bookmarking it for when I get ready to revise and publish, because your tips and explanation were wonderful. Cannot tell you how much I love you for doing this!!!

    • brblog profile image

      Bruce 4 years ago from Chicago, Illinois

      Good tips here - thanks for the hub . . .

    • cclitgirl profile image

      Cynthia Calhoun 4 years ago from Western NC

      Fantastic, fabulous, wonderful advice here. LOVE IT! I'll be writing a hub soon about the whole NaNo process. Hehe, I did not use an outline, I just splayed myself wide open. Perhaps I'm a dolt...but well...it was fun anyways. hahaha.

    • MelChi profile image

      Melanie Chisnall 4 years ago from Cape Town, South Africa

      Perfect timing to read this on the day that I finished writing my novel for NaNo! Thank you Julie! Great job on this article...thorough but easy to understand. Which is what I love about your writing :)

    • Kamalesh050 profile image

      Kamalesh050 4 years ago from Sahaganj, Dist. Hooghly, West Bengal, India

      Very Useful, Interesting, Informative and a Wonderful hub as a whole. I shall read it again. Best Wishes, Kamalesh

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