What is the best way to start writing my first book?

Are you someone who struggles with writing a blog post or a social media post, and you really want to write a book, but you’re almost paralyzed with how to start this mountain of a project? 

As a book coach, I will answer your question about the best way to start writing your first book without succumbing to overwhelm.

If you are a first-time book author, then there are four points you have to keep in mind before you start on your writing journey.

  • Do specific research

Don’t just Google everything for the sake of researching. You could waste days, weeks, even months researching.

The best thing to do is to do targeted research.

What I mean by targeted research is to find out who your target audience is for your book.

For example, if you are a fitness coach and want to write a book, find out the kinds of people attracted to your business.

Are your clients young people or are they older people?

Are they middle-aged? 

Do you tend to attract men or women? 

Maybe you are attracting people who are very out of touch with their fitness and just want to get started with some physical activity.

Or maybe your clients are athletes who need a structured intensive workout.

Your target client is going to be the target reader for your book!

If you’re already an established business, it’s a brilliant move to go and ask your current clients – you’ll be amazed how honored they feel that you’re asking for their advice.

Ask your target readers what they want to learn from you.

You should do this because sometimes it’s easy to get locked into our heads and think we’ve got the best idea for a book. 

I’ve seen many people fail to ask and then write a book that no one wants to read.

If you are writing a non-fiction book, remember that it’s a very different process from writing fiction. 

For example, while some fiction authors do research the current trends before they start writing, it can sometimes pay not to go with current trends and follow your heart.

JK Rowling, the author of the Harry Potter series, ignored the fact that she was told again and again that children and teens were no longer into witches and wizards, and they had moved on to vampires and werewolves. 

She decided she was going to write what was in her heart – a story about young witches and wizards. I’m sure you agree, this decision has paid off handsomely for her!

But the kind of books I help my students write are designed to raise your brand visibility and your business and cement you as the expert amongst your competitors in your industry or niche. 

With those kinds of books, you can’t afford to go where your heart tells you to go.

You need concrete evidence that what you’re putting in your book is what your target audience needs.

If you don’t have any new clients, you need to ask your target audience on forums, Facebook groups or wherever they hang out.

  • Read book reviews. 

Reading book reviews is a form of market research, and it’s far easier with the ‘review culture’ we have on Amazon and elsewhere.

Before, it was tough to find out what people thought. But now, people willingly leave all their thoughts online for you to read. 

You can find some absolute gems inside Amazon reviews.

First, go and find three to five books on the topic you want to write your book on. 

Then go into the reviews section and read them.

You may be overwhelmed with 1000s of reviews, but a shorter way is to search for the word ‘becausein the reviews.

You’ll find a lot of people justify their reasoning with the word ‘because.’

For example, they will say, “This book was great, but it was too long, because they talked about this one topic excessively, and then they glossed over everything else.”

This way, you can find out exactly what needs to go into your book, and you can find out exactly what needs to be left out of your book. It’s gold! 

Get this kind of market research for free by just going and reading the reviews on Amazon.

  • Mind Map your book out.

I’m a book coach, and before my students are allowed to write a single word in their manuscript, they mind map their entire book out.

It may take several days for you to do that, but it’s worth it.

Use what you’ve learned in your research and your book reviews to create your mind map. That way, you will not go off on a tangent and stay on track. 

  • Don’t start at the beginning. 

Experienced writers never start at the beginning.

When I wrote sales pages (I was a copywriter), I never started at the beginning of the sales page. My favorite place to start was the features and benefits.

First, I would find out all the features. Then I would think about the benefits of those features. 

I would then start writing in bullet points.

Next, I would write the story of that product or that business owner and finally, start to assemble the sales page. 

The average business book is around 30K to 60K words. It’s huge compared to a sales page which is 5K to 7K.

So when you start at the beginning (usually the Introduction chapter) you could get imposter syndrome and think, “Oh my God, why did I think I could do this? I should just give up. I’m not an author.”

To avoid overwhelm, mind-mapped everything out, and then don’t start at the beginning.

My students skip the Introduction entirely to avoid imposter syndrome. 

They start to question whether they’re good enough to be a published author.

Instead, they start straight into chapter one.

Even inside Chapter 1, they leave the introduction and the summary sections, and instead go straight into the main ‘teaching’ portion. 

Next, they go and write just the main sections in Chapter 2, and so on.

The teaching bits are easy wins for you because these are things you’re doing in your business.

For example, if you are a fitness coach, you know the sequence of exercises that you teach your clients. If you are a nutritionist, you know how to explain diet charts, etc.

Get all that easy stuff done first. Then you’ll find it so much easier to write each chapter’s introduction and a summary.

After my students have done all the chapters, they’re now well equipped to write a fantastic introduction because they feel so accomplished by that point.

You don’t have to use the same sequence as my students. Just go where you feel right and get those quick wins.

If there’s one topic that you can do on autopilot, go and do that one first.

Just go in and write whatever you feel you want to try. And then you can assemble it together.

The more wins you have, the more it spurs you on to keep going and write that book!

Next Step

If you’re interested in writing a business book that will generate leads and sales for your business, get a copy of The Freedom Master Plan that will explain everything you need to know about writing and marketing business books.

You can also download a sample chapter here