8 Steps to Write and Publish Your Book

So you want to write a book?

I’ve had so many questions lately about how to start writing your book that I figured I’d post this.  Most of you working... working... working...want to write your life story so stop talking about it and do it.

Start Writing Your Book

You either write or you don’t write, those are the options.  For those of you who are asking (even before you’ve written your book) how you get a publisher – you have to know that the publishing industry is changing by the second.

Publishing is Changing

Gone are the days when you can send in a book idea, get a nice hefty advance and instantly get on the New York Times Bestseller List.  Publishers nowadays want to see that you have a following, a fan base (certainly a Facebook Page) and to be sure that you, the author, can sell your own book.  They don’t want to take any risks whatsoever. Also, if your book is a memoir and you’re not famous, you are very unlikely to get a deal.  I’m just warning you.

BUT – things are changing so drastically that you can do it yourself.  Self-publishing is changing a lot and no longer  has the lame, you suck and couldn’t get a “real” publisher stigma.  Many authors are taking advantage of the easy opportunities out there to get their books out.  You don’t have to worry about printing boxes of books and keeping them in your garage either.  There are many places that do Ebook publishing and it is very easy.

And guess what?  If you have a book out and your fans love it, you may just inadvertently get an offer from a bigger publisher.  I know, it’s annoying being dissed until you’ve made it and then they want you. But such is life.  You think that is bad?  Try working in Hollywood.

Independent Publishers

You can also find a small Independent Publisher (there are loads of lists – here’s one) who may pay for your editor, formater, designer and marketing and get paid back from your book sales.  Usually they have good % deals to share proceeds with you and they don’t walk away with the lion’s share.

My next books are with a publisher that does not even take submissions, most don’t.  I was lucky to meet them in one of those kismet meetings and they have been very helpful. Finding an indie publisher can be just as frustrating as a big one though, but what are you worrying about?

Write Your Book

You have to write your book first – to find a publisher.  That’s right, you have to write a book.

Forget creating a proposal.  Just write your book!  Do it. If you are hung up on the belief that you can get an advance on your idea because you are so fabulous, the problem is that by the time that comes true (if it does) you could have written the book already!

Set a Deadline to Write

If you are serious about writing your book – you must set a deadline to be done with your first draft by.  Set a deadline for yourself three months from now to have your first draft.   You can do it.  Do it.  You’re serious, right?

Step One – Outline Your Book

Healing Workbook Create an outline.  I already wrote the template out for you, it’s easy.  If you write out the answers to the questions in theBe Your Own Hero Workbook, and you answer super honestly, you are on your way to having your book outline.  It’s already written in the Hero’s Journey format.  (Read this post about How To Write Your Own Hero Story)  Just fill that workbook out.  Better yet, flip through the book as you write your answers on your computer.  Go through eight pages a day for fifteen days.  There’s your outline.

Here’s another post about using the workbook to write your book, along with a way to download it cheaper.  (Having the hardcopy is way better btw, and saves printing costs in the long run)

Download the Ebook RIGHT NOW for only $9 Be Your Own Hero Workbook

Step two – Write Your Book


http://hikingartist.com/Write your book.  Yes, you actually have to write a book.  I can’t tell you how to write since everyone has a different voice but I will urge you to write in your voice.

Write how you speak

Take the answers you made in your outline and expound on them.  Flush the story out, add more details, give yourself some great dialog.  You sound awesome.  Expound upon your outline for one month, every day.  There’s your rough draft. (notice I did not say first draft, I said rough draft)

Step Three – Rewrite Your Book

Rewrite the whole mess of words you have.  Reread it and then rewrite it.  If you hate rewriting and think you’re a genius from the first page, learn this simple fact – WRITING IS REWRITING.  You can never avoid a rewrite.  Spend the next month rewriting your pages, every day.  There’s your first draft.  If you’re ahead of schedule, good!  Read it again.

Step Four – Have Someone Read Your Book

Have someone you trust read your first draft.  Have them honestly tell you want they think about it.  Does it make sense?  Are there any holes in it?  Do you want to scream at them as they tell you what they thought?  You’re probably onto something.  Only take the notes on the things that ring true for you.  Does something they said remind you of what you were already thinking of changing or adding?  Address it.  Do they tell you how to write it and how to fix it and how they would do it?  Ignore that.  Only take the notes that you were already secretly thinking.  And of course take the notes that happen to be the Ah, Ha, I never thought of that ideas!  Those are genius.   Address those.

Step Five – Hire a Professional Editor

When size matters

From HikingArtist.com

What?  You mean my aunt Rosie is not my editor?  But she gave me great notes!  She likes my book.

Your aunt Rosie is not a professional editor, sorry.  You need a professional editor if you want a good book.  It’s just that simple.

A good editor is like a golden magical seed that you keep in your pocket.  They are usually right, too, listen to them.

Here is a group of editors that I have worked with and I really like them — Words Into Print.

Yes, editors cost money and sometimes quite a bit of money (maybe 2-5K).  Start saving now.  Your editor is your most valuable expense.  Pay for good work. 

Then listen to your editor, address the notes that ring true for you and voila – you have a book!  You did it!  Now what do you do with it?

Sometimes the editors you work with may have connections to literary agents.  If they think your book is good enough, they can make an introduction.  But in these times, even professional editors will tell you that you may be better off just getting the book out there yourself.

Self Publishing

You mean self-publishing?  But I want a big company?  I want an advance. I want, I want, I want.  Yeah, I know.

But it’s time for a serious wake-up call.

The industry is changing and if you’re not famous, or have some kind of huge selling point, or they’re making your book into a movie or you’re related to such-and-such – you need to take a bite out of reality pie.

Do you think I got a big publisher for the Be Your Own Hero Workbook? No, I did not. I actually did not even try.  And guess what?  It sells on Amazon. It’s my biggest selling book actually. Life is amazing.

Step Six – Get Your Book Professionally Designed

Get your book layout done and your cover designed professionally.  Hopefully your designer can also format books, but usually they are just the artist to create your book cover.  I’ve always worked with Jennifer Welker.

I’m even convinced my publisher to use her on my book – Will Date 4 Food.  She’s really good and I’m loyal and I fight for artists I respect, and who work well!  Here is her website.

I have also worked with animator and artist, James Murray.  He did the dancing header on my website.  Look up at it!  Isn’t it cute?  He also drew my little goth girl for the Be Your Own Hero Workbook - the book that helps you with your healing and your book outline!  Here is his website – http://www.jamesmurray.tv

I have also worked with Khayyam Wakil.

There are tons of sites out there to find other designers and people to help you with the layout of your book.  If you go to Create Space (Amazon’s publishing company), there are tons of PDFs you can download to help you layout your book yourself.

Doing the formatting yourself can be really irritating but in the end, if you have to do it to save money, at least you learned how to.  Follow the help guides!

Step Seven – Get Your Book on Amazon

Amazon is the biggest book store out there – get it on that huge virtual bookshelf!  If you are mad at Amazon for whatever reason, probably that they are an outlet for anyone (even creeps), then read this post I wrote – Why Blame Amazon? In fact, don’t blame Amazon, utilize them to get your words out there.

Authors, Share Your Book with Millions of Readers

CreateSpace: (Amazon’s publishing company) really is the simplest place I’ve found to do it yourself.

Why am I telling you to go to Create Space when I have a publisher, you ask?

Because it’s an pain in the butt to find a publisher and if you are going to spend years trying to get your memoir published, why not get it out there while you wait?  And I have a publisher for four of my upcoming books but I have used Create Space myself and will again.

I used CreateSpace for the Be Your Own Hero Warrior Workbook

It’s a site that works. The help sections are great, all you need to do is read the How-Tos they have already provided. I don’t need to reiterate it all word-for-word.

The beauty about a place like Create Space is that you do not have to pay to have 10,000 copies of the book printed, start a warehouse and worry about fulfillment and customer service.

I’ve done that before with my documentary Searching for Angela Shelton and that is some hard work!

You simply upload your book elements and Amazon does the printing and shipping.  We love that.

Believe me, I printed up the first truckload of my doc myself and shipped them out of my backyard in the beginning. That is not fun, especially when you get an order for hundreds in one day. (Oh, for us all to have that good problem on all of our books.)  The point is, you need to write, not worry about running a warehouse.  Blech.

Step Eight – Promote Your Book

Actually, you should begin promoting your book even before you start writing it.

Start a Facebook Page for your book and share it with all of your friends. That way, you can get them excited about it and when you release it, you can let them know.

I started Facebook pages and Twitter accounts for my next books, The Adventures of Tilda Pinkerton and The Magic Hat Shop, even while they were being edited and the illustrations were not even finished yet.

If the publishers are wanting this kind of thing that far in advance, you should do it too!  (I didn’t share those links just for example, please go “like” my pages too and tweet me! Thank you.)

Plus, you might ask if you have to do all of this yourself, why in the world do you need a publisher?  Good question!  (sorry Elliot)

The fact is that you don’t if you can promote your book yourself.

Watch what the indie and the big publishers are doing. They are promoting.

If you really want to follow the publishing routine, you can upload your book to your new Create Space account, print off advance copies (it may cost you 4 bucks a book) and send them to people you’d like a quote or a review from.

Make sure you’re asking people who are in the field of what you’re writing about, or who are authors who have written similar books with a large following.  You can also send your book to big bloggers and ask for a review.  You can just Google promoting my book and there are loads of places to send your book to if you have the funds to do it.

Once you get some quotes and reviews, have your designer add them to your book cover and voila, the design is done!  Make your book available on CreateSpace on all the channels and outlets and then start promoting it on Amazon. Ask people to give it a good rating, “like” it and write about how much they love it.

Happy Writing. Don’t give me any excuses. You’ve been asking me how you can write your book and get it out there and I just told you!

Get the Be Your Own Hero Warrior Workbook – it’s a great template for your story. 


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  • http://www.angelashelton.com/ Angela Shelton

    If you’re ready for create space or even at the point of hiring an artist – you should copyright your text before for sure. You can use the Writer’s Guild at wga.org or copyright.gov.

    Basically when you are ready to share it – copyright it!

  • http://www.angelashelton.com/ Angela Shelton

    If you publish yourself, it does cost money for your editor, designer and formatting. Traditional publishers will pay for all of that, but since the whole field is changing so fast and new authors are having a really hard time breaking into the old model, they are doing it themselves. You can save some money by trying out Elance to find people, also 99designs.com while you submit proposals to publishers.

  • KT.B.1396

    Ok I have a book that I finished awhile ago and I’m only 17 I’ve tried to get it published but I have to pay to get it put together… I need help finding someone to help me publish it or to publish it by myself… is there any advice on what I could do for publishing it?

  • http://www.angelashelton.com/ Angela Shelton

    You’ve got the whole book pretty much planned out? Well, come on gal! Toss those fears away and get to writing! Follow the steps in this post – they work!

  • carlieann13

    Hi, okay here’s the thing. I’m only 14 and I LOVE to write! I write fanfictions about the girls on the show “Dancemoms” and people really seem to love them. But I want to go bigger and better. I am starting to write my first book and I have my idea it’s just that well… I have NO IDEA what I’m doing and I’m afraid that I won’t be able to pull it off. I have the whole book pretty much planned out except small details. I’m from a small town and have no clue what to do so… any tips?

  • Pingback: Inspiration For Authors… | The Author Renee Brooks()

  • http://www.angelashelton.com/ Angela Shelton


  • Glen Palmer

    Hi Angela, love the steps. I’ve done most of them but there’s a few I haven’t that I’m going to take on board, such as starting a facebook page to promote my book. Nice tip.
    What I love about writing is I can now do it super fast thanks to http://www.startyourbook.com.
    Keep on with the informative posts Angela.

  • http://www.angelashelton.com/ Angela Shelton

    My last publisher wanted 70-90,000 words. Inching towards 150K is getting a bit thick but you never know. There are always reasons to break the rules. I’d keep writing another draft until YOU are happy with it. Then give it to your editor (then you’ll pace, maybe cry, stare at the wall…).

    Post of us writers are typical with our process and minor freak outs. :)

  • Paul Douglas Lovell

    Thanks for telling me what I sort of already knew, am I so typical that you had ME down to a T. So I did my 1st draft, which took 7 months and am almost through my 2nd. I got a editor waiting (one I can afford and trust) DO I have to do a 3rd draft too. What about size, mines massive ;-) My memoirs are 135,000 words how am I expected to now cut it down to fit requirements? http://powerpuffgeezer.webs.com/ http://pinterest.com/powerpuffgeezer/paulyanna-memoirs-in-picture-form

  • http://www.angelashelton.com/ Angela Shelton

    As an editor thank you for “liking” that. I know I know – it’s true! Writers need and should love their editor, and feed them well. ;)

  • http://www.pure-text.net Lauren I. Ruiz

    This was my favorite part: “They are usually right, too, listen to them.” Lol.

  • http://www.angelashelton.com/ Angela Shelton

    Here’s an interesting read too – http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970203554104577002230413747366.html