Question: What are the basic steps to be successful at the beginning of writing your first book and autobiography?



I often say to writers, “Having an idea for a book is easy, but writing a good book to the finish and marketing it is one of the more difficult tasks any person can take on.”

Let’s face it - writing a book is HARD. For many first time authors, the process becomes too challenging and overwhelming, causing them to give up. I’m here to tell you, anyone can turn an idea into a finished piece that can be shared with the world. You just have to know – and follow – the steps that will get you there. My conversations with thousands of aspiring and accomplished authors prompted me to write, “7 Things Every Writer Needs to Become an Author”, which I speak about in webinar presentations and at conferences. Following this advice will greatly increase your chances of reaching your publishing goals:

1.  An idea

We all know it starts with the idea, but the key to writing a good book that others will care about is turning that idea into a well thought-out story or narrative. For fiction writers, that means making sure your story includes “The 5 Elements of a Good Story”. If you are writing creative nonfiction such as memoir or autobiography, it’s essential that your story includes universal themes or messages that will resonate with readers. For professional nonfiction writers, your book must offer a solution to a problem using the “PIE” approach – principal, illustration, and example.

2.  A deadline

Research shows that you become 42 percent more likely to achieve your goals and dreams simply by writing them down on a regular basis. Use the ALC’s Book Launch Tool to set up your book project and assign a deadline for publication. Even if your deadline has to shift during the process, it still gives you something concrete to work toward.

To write a book or memoir, you just have to sit down and get started.3.  A plan

Once you have a deadline set, you can create a plan of short-term goals and milestones that will provide a roadmap for meeting that deadline. You can set weekly word count goals, due dates for your first draft, revisions, and final draft, when you need to have your book cover artwork finalized, and so on. The ALC’s Book Launch Tool allows you to assign dates to tasks related to writing, editing, publishing, and marketing your book. You can even create custom tasks as needed.

4.  Advice

Questions will come up along the way, so it’s important to have expert resources and guidance at your fingertips. The ALC is certainly one of the best places you can quickly look for answers online, but you can also find advice through writing groups and mentors. Join a small, trusted community that you can rely on when needed.

5.  Persistence

Even well known, established authors experience self-doubt, obstacles, and rejection throughout their journeys. The key to success as an author is to avoid letting these things get in your way. Often times, these potential roadblocks are self-inflicted. Take a step back when you face challenges, revisit your long-term goals, and stay focused. Where there is a will, there is a way.

6.  Accountability

Sharing your goals with a supportive family member, friend, or writing peer can go a long way in helping you stay on track. Commit to what you are going to complete and when, then schedule routine check-ins with this person to review your progress. Having someone that believes in your writing and understands your goals can keep you motivated and on task.

7.  Encouragement

It’s easy to get discouraged when working on a long-term project. For some writers, it can take YEARS to complete a book. Be sure to surround yourself with positive people and resources that inspire you. As an ALC member, you have the ability to create an Author Circle for your book project and join other members’ Author Circles. These private forums provide a place where you can ask questions, start discussions, or get feedback on different aspects of your book.

Here are some tips specific to writing a memoir or autobiography:

• Make sure you understand the differences between memoir and autobiography.

• If you are writing about sensitive or emotional topics, be courageous and don’t run from the truth.

• As mentioned above, make sure you have an underlying universal theme or message.

• Understand the potential ramifications of telling your truth.

• If you are considering using a pen name, understand the pros and cons of this approach.

Having a deadline, plan, and support system will all go a long way in helping you reach your dream of becoming a published author. The ALC can assist you with all of these things, so be sure to use the tools, resources, and writing community that are available to you! Happy writing!