4 steps to start writing your first book

By: Sona Nambiar,  

Tap away at the keyboard


But I cant write you say. Why? Writing brings back memories of school. Triple red and blue lines. The handwriting part where your alphabets had to fit into those lines. And follow the cursive writing rules too. Those long school essays. “What I did during my summer holidays?” If you were like most people, you did not like writing because you did not like reading to begin with. And to top it all, your English teacher graded you badly every term. You scored a 100/100 in Algebra. Aced it in Chemistry. But, somehow, no matter how much you tried you could not get beyond a 45 in English and hated Wren & Martin or its equivalent.

Speaking is great but writing. Ouch!

But oh. Today, when you speak, the mobs and your office – they go into a frenzy. You motivate people to strap their boots and climb Everest. Your powerpoint presentations are the stuff that investors watch transfixed and start writing out cheques. Ok, that is a bit extreme. But you get the point. You are great. You have the thoughts. You drive the company. You regale them with your tales of innovation. But writing is another story.. And you put off writing that book to 2030 when ???????

Top 4 tips to start writing a book

So how do you start writing your first book? Get a typewriter? Play jazz music? Make black coffee of a strength that makes energy drinks look like lemonade? I dont know what gets you into the zone but those are just catalysts. In my experience. Since I am too old to pretend and say, “In my humble opinion,” here are my top expert four tips to start your journey to become a good writer. The Number 1 ingredient to make a successful book is

1)Discipline: Tap away at the keyboard and write 500 words. Sit down every day. Same place. Same time. Every day for the rest of this year. Maybe, you can take a break – one day on the weekend. Else, keep your nose to the grind or Scotty wont beam you up to to Kindle or Kinokuniya. Whether you want to become famous and self-publish on Amazon or create an e-book for your website (btw any book published online is an e-book), first start the First sentence. Followed by the second, the third, and the fourth. You get the gist. It is hard work. Ask any editor or journalist. We never had silence, birdsong and music at 528 Hz (the creative Solfeggio frequency) on the newsdesk. Just wrote Despite the storm around us.

FYI, a page in a printed book is between 250 words to 350 words – if you using images, blurbs etc. Use 14 point font size. So if you write 500 words daily, that is around two pages. Not much right work right? Obviously. 

As we cant get paid leave to take a flight, hike up the mountain to a cave or a log cabin to write a book. Besides, chopping wood is so dreary if you have to light a fire when it is cold outside. Instead, set a daily alarm. And tap away. Ask us editors who went up the ranks to reach where we are today, sheer perseverance works. So tap away.

2)Record the chapters: You heard me right. Now take those chapters and read them out. Use a digital recorder or your smartphone and record. Why? When you hear it next day, you will realise if it is a good or bad chapter. Or a cringeworthy one that even your Persian cat will sniff at. Dear author. If you dont like what you hear, who will?

And, regrets. If you dont know your first chapter by now, then you are not really ready to write your book either. So hit the record button. And rewrite till it sounds right to you.

3)Transcribe your chapters: Own the book. Your voice. Your tone. No. Dont hire those ghost writers or copy writers even at this point. Write out those chapters yourself. Years later, when someone gushes about how a line from your book transformed their life, you will rack your brains and murmur sweet nothings. Because it was not your line. You have no clue what they are talking about.

But your ghost writer will. At some point. Years later. Subtly or brashly. Your ghost writer will let people know that they wrote your book. Yes, they will. NDAs (Non-disclosure agreements, notwithstanding). Even the most modest of writers. They just will not be able to keep quiet about that one.

So if you follow these three steps, you will save yourself a lot of time, heartache and lots of money. As you are now on your way to be a true author. At this point, you need to take the next and the most crucial decision.

4)Hire the editor: Congratulations. You made it this far. Now you are ready for your first Outsourced Editor. Why not ask your friend to edit? The one who is good in English? Because being good in English does not make for a good editor. Then why not take it to the publisher who will have their editors anyway? Because that editor will try to mould your manuscript to their marketing strategy.

Instead, look around for an outsourced editor near you and in your timezone. Who understands how to create a strategy using brand journalism. An independent online editor to give you constructive criticism and independent assessment to see if your book flows. Or whether your chapters are akin to a mountain goat who is leaping across the crags of a mountain in a rhythm known only to the mountain goat.

To find the method in your madness, find the right editor to take that book to next level while keeping your style intact. Preferably with over 12 years of experience. Let go of your analysis paralysis and your manuscript and email it to an editor as an experienced editor will not tell you nice things you want to hear. Your first editor is your second pair of eyes and has no desire to sell or market your book.. That is why your choice of the first editor is very crucial. They care only about one thing. 

Will someone will read your book?

Having edited “Peace In,” written by Bassem Terkawi who published it on Amazon, I speak from experience. In the next chapter, I will elaborate on the different kinds of editors you will find. If you cannot wait till then, connect with me for a free audit. So what time did you set the alarm for tomorrow?