Writing a Book For the First Time? A Breakdown of the Complete Process

By Jason Hamilton
Last updated on January 13th, 2023

Are you thinking about writing a book for the first time? It's a big undertaking, but it can also be an incredibly rewarding experience. 

From crafting the initial idea to holding that finished book in your hands, the process of writing a book is a long and potentially overwhelming process. 

That is why I’ve broken down the complete process of writing a book, from start to finish, to help you navigate the journey. You’ll learn how to take your book from an idea, all the way through the writing/editing/formatting process, to the finished product.

We’ll even talk about how to market that book when you’re done.

In this article, you will learn:
  1. Why you should write a book
  2. How to flesh out your idea into a full book
  3. How to prepare that book for publication
  4. How to publish and market that book

So if you're ready to take on the challenge of writing a book for the first time, let's get started!

Chapter 1

Why Should You Write a Book?

Chances are, you already have a good reason for writing a book, if you’re reading this article. But you may not know some of the other reasons why you should do it.

Writing a book for the first time can be a fulfilling and enriching experience. There are many compelling reasons to take on this challenging yet rewarding project, including the following:

  • Share perspective: Sharing a unique perspective or story can be a rewarding experience for both the author and the reader. Chances are, you have something to say, and a unique perspective that others don’t have.
  • Document experiences: Have you ever felt that you just had to write down an idea or experience that you had? A book is a great way to do that.
  • Establishing expertise: Writing a book can help establish you as an expert or thought leader in your field. It demonstrates your knowledge and expertise on a particular subject, which establishes your credibility.
  • Documenting research: Documenting research or findings in a book can help share important information with a wider audience and contribute to the body of knowledge in your field.
  • Expressing creativity: Writing a book allows you to express your creativity through storytelling and the written word. It can be a fulfilling and enriching experience for those who enjoy writing and have a passion for storytelling.
  • Personal challenge: You might want to write a book just because it’s a challenge! It requires discipline, dedication, and hard work to complete a long-term writing project, which can provide huge growth opportunities.
  • Reaching a wide audience: Perhaps you want to reach a lot of people with your message, and a book has the potential to reach a wide audience and make a positive impact.
  • Earning income: Writing a book can also potentially be a source of additional income for you through book sales (Hint: this is what we’re all about here at Kindlepreneur).
  • Leaving a literary legacy: Writing a book allows you to contribute to the literary world and potentially leave a lasting legacy. You may want to, in the words of Master Yoda, “pass on what you have learned” to your children, grandchildren, or the world at large.

Overall, there are a lot of reasons why you might want to write a book. For fiction or nonfiction. So let’s get into it.

The rest of this article will outline the exact path you need to follow to take your book from a vague idea, to a bestseller. 

Let’s dive in.

Chapter 1

Step 1: The Idea

As with any book, it all starts with an idea. But how do you know if your idea is good enough, or is likely to sell?

Start by running the story through our five-part research rubric:

Part 1: Learn If People Search For Your Book Idea

When considering writing a book for the first time, it is important to determine if there is a demand for the type of book you are planning to write. One way to do this is to search for keywords related to your book idea on Amazon and Google. The Amazon autofill feature and Google keyword suggestions can help you build a list of relevant keywords. 

To get a more accurate idea of how many people are searching for these keywords on Amazon, you can use the Publisher Rocket tool

Part 2: Find Out if the Idea is Profitable

It is important to verify if people are willing to pay for a book on a particular topic or genre before writing it. 

To do this, search for the potential book idea on Amazon and select the top 14 books that appear in the search results. Check the Amazon Best Seller Rank, price, and number of reviews for each book. 

Use the Amazon Best Seller Rank Calculator to estimate the number of books sold per day for each book, and multiply this number by the price and 30 to estimate the monthly revenue for each book. Add up the earnings per day for all 14 books and divide by 14 to get the average earnings for the search phrase.

Part 3: Discover The Competition Difficulty

To determine the competitiveness of a book idea, search for the phrase on Amazon and note the number of results. Calculate the average Amazon Best Seller Rank for the top three and top 14 books. 

Assess the quality of the competition by looking at the book covers, customer reviews, descriptions, and other factors, and assign a grade from 1 to 100. Compare these numbers to determine the competitiveness of the phrase or book idea both quantitatively and qualitatively. 

The goal should be to outrank the top-ranking book, but it may also be sufficient to rank in the top six if the niche is particularly lucrative. 

Part 4: Rinse and Repeat

It may be necessary to repeat this process multiple times in order to find a viable book idea.

A different direction might involve a completely different topic, while narrowing the focus could involve finding a specific niche within the original topic. Amazon's search suggestions can be helpful for finding ideas for niche topics, and the Publisher Rocket tool can simplify the process of researching and comparing different ideas. 

Chapter 1

Step 2: The Writing

When it comes to writing your book, the simplest instructions I can give you are to just start writing.

However, some people need a little more than that, so here are some parts that I have found very helpful when writing the book.

Part 1: Start with an Outline

With fiction or nonfiction, an outline can be a very helpful tool for any author who wants to get started.

Some people prefer to outline their work before diving into the writing process, while others prefer to write “by the seat of their pants” and discover the story as they go along. Both approaches are valid, but an outline can sometimes increase the speed at which you can write, which is important if you want to make a living as an author.

An outline helps to organize your thoughts and ideas, and provides a roadmap to follow as you write. It can also help to identify any plot holes or inconsistencies in your story before you invest too much time writing. Additionally, an outline can help to keep you on track and ensure that you stay focused on the main points you want to convey.

Whether you're a “plotter” or a “pantser,” starting with an outline can be a helpful way to get your ideas down on paper and begin the writing process. It's okay to deviate from your outline as you write, but having a clear structure in place can help to keep you focused and moving forward.

Part 2B: Writing a Fiction Novel

When you’re writing your fiction novel, there’s a lot to juggle at once and it can get overwhelming. As I mentioned before, sometimes you just have to start writing, but these 20 tips can also help as you go:

  1. Come up with a book title before writing and choose a subtitle for marketing.
  2. Use a basic typeface like Times New Roman.
  3. Avoid cliché beginnings.
  4. Avoid an info dump on the first page.
  5. Stick to one perspective and tense.
  6. Use adverbs sparingly.
  7. Avoid “to be” verbs.
  8. Be careful with pronoun usage.
  9. Ensure every chapter has conflict.
  10. Make every sentence reveal character or advance the action.
  11. Never answer every question.
  12. Make every scene pull its weight.
  13. Use dialogue to reveal character.
  14. Avoid the passive voice.
  15. Use five senses in descriptions.
  16. Use vivid verbs and specific nouns.
  17. Show, don't tell.
  18. Vary sentence length and structure.
  19. Avoid telling the ending.
  20. Edit and revise.

We’ve got a full article on this, which I recommend you check out below.

Part 2B: Writing a Nonfiction Book

Writing a nonfiction book is a very different process from writing fiction. As such, my tips here are quite different. Here are twelve tips:

  1. Start with a clear, concise, and compelling thesis statement.
  2. Define your target audience and speak directly to them. 
  3. Create a detailed outline and stick to it. 
  4. Use credible sources and properly cite them. (Atticus is one of the only programs that allows footnotes, by the way)
  5. Write in an engaging and conversational style. 
  6. Break up long blocks of text with headings, subheadings, and lists.
  7. Use concrete examples and anecdotes to illustrate your points. 
  8. Edit, edit, and edit some more. 
  9. Consider hiring a professional editor. 
  10. Stay true to your brand and audience.
  11. Use storytelling to engage readers.
  12. Use clear and concise language. 

Like fiction, I’ve got a whole article on this one that you can check out below:

Part 3: How to Write Faster

For some people, the most overwhelming part is how slow one tends to write when they are just starting out. If that’s you, don’t worry! I’ve got a list of 13 tips to increase your productivity. This is a huge aspect of becoming a writer, and one I recommend you take seriously.

  1. Schedule undisturbed writing time
  2. Get in the “write” meditation mindset
  3. Choose the right music or noise blocking
  4. Remain consistent
  5. Write the first line
  6. Use the Pomodoro Technique
  7. Turn off the red squiggly line
  8. Know your genre
  9. Outline your story
  10. Experiment with dictation software
  11. Silence your inner editor
  12. Insert placeholder text
  13. Reward yourself

Below you’ll find a link to our full article on author productivity. It’s one of my personal favorites.

Chapter 1

Step 3: The Editing

After the book is finished, then comes the editing process. You’ll likely be doing a lot of editing yourself, but we recommend hiring a professional to help. Not only will this make your book better, but it’ll help you learn and grow as a writer.

There are several types of editing. Here are a few:

  1. Developmental Editing
  2. Line Editing
  3. Copy Editing
  4. Proofreading

Once you’ve figured out what type of editing you need, it’s time to find an editor. Here is our master guide on how to find the best editor for your books.

But even with an editor, you will need to make a lot of the edits yourself. For that reason, we’ve also got a 3-step guide on how to edit a book, as well as a list of the best proofreading tools available.

Spoiler alert: Hands down, we recommend ProWritingAid as the best tool for proofreading your book. It’s better for long-form writing, and is highly customizable, with dozens of reports to choose from.

Plus, it’s 20% if you use our code KINDLEPRENEUR20 at checkout. Be sure to check them out and use the code!

Chapter 1

Step 4: Titles, Covers, and Descriptions (OH MY!)

Around this time (though you can start earlier) you’ll want to start coming up with the title, book cover, and book description for your book. Let’s tackle each of these one by one:

1. Your Book Title

Having a good book title is important because it can help to grab the attention of potential readers and give them an idea of what the book is about. A strong title can also help to improve the book's discoverability and make it more likely to be noticed by readers browsing for something new to read. 

Additionally, a good title can set the tone and expectations for the book and help to differentiate it from similar titles in the same genre or topic. 

And a bad title can have the opposite effect, alienating readers to your book and making them pass it over.

2. Your Book Cover

Having a good book cover is important because it is often the first thing that a potential reader will see. A well-designed cover can draw the reader in and create a strong first impression, while a poorly designed cover may turn them off and cause them to move on to a different book. 

Additionally, a good book cover can be an important marketing tool, as it can help to make the book stand out in a crowded marketplace and grab the attention of potential readers.

I generally recommend that if you can splurge a little extra on any step in this process, it would be the book cover. The quality of your cover will be perhaps the biggest determining factor of your sales.

3. Your Book Description

A good book description is crucial because it serves as sales copy for your book. It's important to remember that a book description is not traditional writing, it's meant to sell your book to potential readers

A well-written book description can help your book stand out and attract readers, while a poorly written one may turn them away. It's important to take the time to craft a compelling and engaging book description that accurately represents your book and entices readers to want to learn more.

I personally recommend finding other book descriptions of bestselling books in your genre (preferably from independent authors), and analyzing the structure of those book descriptions to apply to your book.

Chapter 1

Step 5: Formatting

Book formatting is often overlooked, but it's just as important as a great-looking book cover. When a reader picks up your book, the first thing they'll notice is the cover, but when they open it up, the formatting is what will determine how easy it is for them to read and enjoy your work. 

If the text is jumbled, the margins are uneven, or the font is hard to read, it can be a major distraction and take away from the overall reading experience. 

On the other hand, a well-formatted book looks professional and allows the reader to focus on the content without any distractions.

What Tool to Use? 

Do properly format your books, you’ll need a proper tool. Many, in the past, have used Vellum, but Vellum only works on Mac computers, and is outrageously expensive. Plus, it only focuses on formatting.

That’s why we recommend Atticus, which is not only cheaper and just as powerful as Vellum, but also works on all platforms, including Windows, Mac, Linux, and Chromebook.

That’s why we consider it to be the best Formatting tool on the market. Hands down.

Chapter 1

Step 6: Book Publishing

The next step is to publish your book on Amazon and other retailers (if that’s what you want to do).

Publishing a book on Amazon is a great way to reach a wide audience and make your work available to readers all over the world. Amazon is the largest online retailer, and its platform makes it easy for authors to self-publish their books and make them available for purchase online. 

With Amazon's self-publishing options, you can choose to publish your book as an ebook or as a print book, and you can set your own prices and retain control over your work. Plus, Amazon has a large and active community of readers, so you can benefit from the power of word-of-mouth marketing and get your book in front of a potentially huge audience.

Publish on Amazon or Go Wide?

Now, all that said, there is a debate currently raging on whether or not you should publish exclusively with Amazon in their KDP Select (Kindle Unlimited) program, or whether you should publish wide on all the other platforms (Apple, B&N, Kobo, Google Books, etc.). 

For that, I’ve got another huge article on the subject which you should check out:

Planning Your Book Launch

A book launch is a huge part of your marketing for your book, but we mention it here because it should be part of your publishing process.

We recommend creating a structured plan for your book launch, which can involve several steps. Use our template and recommended book launch plan for help:

Chapter 1

Step 7: Book Marketing

Lastly, once your book is published, it’s time to start marketing it. This is how you make money as an author, and is probably the second most important step on this list (next to actually writing the book, of course). 

Marketing your book is crucial in order to reach your target audience and sell copies. There are many ways to market your book, including through social media, email lists, advertising, and book festivals. 

In fact, this is such a big topic, that we’ve got a huge article on this subject, which you can check out here:

Marketing Ideas

Don’t be afraid to get creative and try new marketing strategies. The more visibility you can gain for your book, the better your chances are of making a profit from your writing. 

Remember, writing a book is only the first step – it’s important to also put in the effort to ensure that your book is seen and purchased by your target audience. So to simplify this process and make it easier for you to get ideas, we also have a list of 70+ ideas on how to market and sell your book. Check it out!

Get the Right Tools for the Job

There are many things to consider when writing a book for the first time, from choosing a profitable book topic and conducting market research, to following industry standards for formatting and presentation. 

Remember, writing a book is a long-term process that requires discipline, hard work, and a little bit of luck. But with the right tools and resources, it's a rewarding and fulfilling experience that can potentially leave a lasting legacy. 

If you're ready to take the next step in your writing journey, be sure to check out Atticus and Publisher Rocket, as well as our suite of free tools designed to help authors at every stage of the publishing process. 

  • Atticus will help you write and format the book, and even has built-in productivity tools to keep you going.
  • Publisher Rocket is a market research tool and keyword/category finder. Using Rocket, you can easily figure out where to position your book on the marketplace for maximum exposure.

Plus, we’ve got a ton of free tools to help you on your journey, so check those out as well!

Otherwise, enjoy writing your first book. You got this!

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