How to Start Writing a Book: Tips and Steps

How to Start Writing a BookHave you ever had the thought “Hey, I should write a book with all I know about…”, yet you have always put it aside thinking “but I don’t know how to start writing a book”? Let’s take a look at some tips and steps necessary – what it really takes – to write a book.

How to Start Writing a Book: For Starters

Know Your Subject and Audience

The first thing you need to understand when you’re figuring out how to start writing a book is why you are writing your book in the first place. Is it to document a great experience you had? Is it to weave a fictional tale? Is it to instruct or coach? It is vital to understand the purpose of the book so that you can target it to the proper audience. You have to think much bigger than the book itself. Can you turn it into speaking engagements? Book signings? Or maybe you can use it as a Loss Leader on your website for enrolling people into your training program or other ventures? You have to really understand your audience and your big picture plan before you begin.

Know Your Story

Now that you know the subject and audience for your book, the next step in learning how to start writing your book is to organize the story line. Make an outline of each chapter heading. Make bullet points of the various ideas that you want to communicate within each chapter. Do you have enough ideas and/or chapters to fill an entire book? Do you have enough information to flesh out each idea and/or chapter? Do you know your subject material well enough to write off-the-cuff or do you need to do some research?
One great way to flesh out your subject is to present it to someone else and record it. If you are doing a training manual or guide you can instruct someone on the process while recording it, then transcribe the recording and work with it until it flows as a story. If you have done webinars or presentations in the past, or perhaps an interview, use the slide deck or the recording as a source for laying out the chapters and converting it all to prose.

How to Start Writing a Book: The Nitty-Gritty

Format The Book

One of the most important things to consider when learning how to start writing a book is that quality counts. Don’t put a ton of effort into writing your book, only to produce anything less than a professional end product. One of the most powerful tools for professionally writing and formatting a document is Microsoft Word™. If you don’t already know how to use Headings it is time to learn (found under the Format:Style menu). By assigning the proper level of Heading Style to each chapter heading (Heading 1) or subheading, or sub-sub-heading, within a chapter (Heading 2 , Heading 3, etc.) you have taken the step necessary to create a beautifully formatted book with a hyperlinked (web-ready) Table of Contents. It is also easy to tag words for entry into an Index if so desired. Using the tool as it has been intended will vastly facilitate downstream formatting!
A bit more challenging is footnoting and citation, but Word can handle it all. This can be done after the fact, but it is so easy to just do it as you go and have it done when you are finished writing.
The next feature to be familiar with is how to insert and manage Section Breaks (Insert:Break menu). Each section break can have it’s own unique Header and Footer, and each section can begin page numbering over again at #1 if so desired. This is especially useful when you are inserting the Table of Contents. You must create the new section above your first chapter, then insert the Table of Contents (Insert:Index and Table menu), then reformat the Header and Footer as desired.

Other Resources to help facilitate how to start writing a book:

There are online sites that can take on some of these tasks for you. By placing an ad in, or similar sites, you can find resources from all over the world who charge anywhere from $1/hr to over $20/hr who can transcribe recordings or format the content for you.


When learning how to start writing a book, many folks are reluctant to show others before the book is “done”. On the contrary, be sure to give your newly created book to someone else for proofreading. It is a fact that you can look at something that is written wrong over and over again and your mind will correct it for you to the point that you will miss it. It is always vital that someone else proofreads your creation. Not just from a point of whether it is making sense or not, and whether it is well presented logically, and the use of language, but also as an editor for the technical details – spelling, punctuation, formatting, etc.
Now that you are done with your new and exciting creation you need to publish it, copyright it, and market it. These are subjects for Parts 2, 3 and 4 in the series of How to Start Writing a Book. Expect these soon!
From the office of Drew Berman, contributed by Seth Lefferts. Seth Lefferts is an entrepreneur, consultant and business owner. He has spent many years in the corporate environment and has discovered that there is a way out. He is now teaching how to utilize the skillset that it takes to break free and become your own boss, and how to realize your dreams. Learn more at www.DareToDreamNow.Us.

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