What should be the first thing you determine before writing the first words of your first (or next) book? One of the first questions I ask a new client (new author or experienced author) is, “Who is your audience?” The next question I ask is, “Why are you writing it?”
People have reasons for writing a book. When it is based on passion, writing becomes a book, whether it is published or not. Some people want to tell a story as in narrative, poem, poetry, ramblings, blog, or journal. Others want to help others through their professional experiences.
A few people aren’t satisfied with the current state of affairs in their lives and want to voice their opinion. A few more specialize in content for other authors. And a couple can add humor or satirize a story. It doesn’t matter the reasons for writing. It matters that your thoughts get on paper (or digital) for some future need.
Lao Tzu said, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.” Writing is similar. A book begins with the first word, first sentence, first paragraph, etc. Let’s break books into two types, fiction, and nonfiction, for simplicity. There are other types, but I will touch on these two types here.
The fiction writer has a story to tell that entertains the reader. I read fiction. I do not write fiction. Fiction writers tell a story from the eyes of one of the book’s characters. When done well, it is hard to put the book down. I remember one night many years ago. I was reading in bed and the alarm clock went off. I had read all night long and never realized it. The book had captured me.
I write nonfiction. Nonfiction is informing, as a general statement. Nonfiction includes biographies, true stories, autobiographies, essays, and many other types.
I am asked often how many pages are needed for a book. It depends on the type of book you are writing. You would not write a 400-page, 100,000-word book for first graders. 100,000 words can yield different sized books based on indents, font size, line spacing, and more.
As a rule, there are 250-300 words per page. 55,000 words should give you a 200-page book in 12-point font. My audience is baby boomers. I increase the size of my font to make it easier for my readers. Types of fonts vary per the authors’ preferences.
Colleen McCullough is one of my favorite authors. She passed away a few years ago. I loved her books that were 200,000-300,000 words (usually over 1000 pages). The Harry Potter books contain 1,094,170 words collectively.
The manuscripts I receive from my clients are single-spaced, Times New Roman, 12-point font. If they want a 6” X 9” book, it is easy to double the number of pages and determine a rough estimate of the finished book. A manuscript of 100 pages yields a 200-page book, roughly speaking.
There are three keys to writing a book. Know who you are writing it for. What value are you adding to their lives? What purpose will be book serve you in the future? If you are writing a legacy or autobiography and your purpose is to educate your great-grand-kids about your life and times, then you don’t care about the cost of the book and marketing it to make a profit.
If your book is to instruct others and establish your credibility, then you care about the pricing and marketing of that book. Yes, authors can make money. Most don’t. Most authors never sell over 250 books nor make $500 in profits after the cost of publishing.
There are exceptions, like my friend I mentioned who uses his book for a business card. He has made multiple-six-figures over the past three years. Yet, he has sold only 1500 books at that same time.
Make a commitment or a promise to yourself to write a book if you have a desire. You may choose to keep the final manuscript and never publish it. You may decide to use it in your business as an extra income stream. 81% of American (200,000,000) want to write a book. Only 21% of full-time writers make enough money to support their lifestyle.
Writing may not be for you. Continue to read along in my future articles and I’ll give you some super-easy tips to make writing a breeze without a pencil, paper, pen, or keyboard.
Live Longer & Enjoy Life – Red O’Laughin
I want to know the book you read that kept you reading all night.
James Clavell, Shogun.