As much as I love to edit books, I’ve come across many self-published books that suck. Okay, let me take a step back--- they don’t completely suck, they just need further development.
As someone who’s passionate about helping others get their books done WELL, I know it takes something to write a book. It takes even more to write a good book. That’s why I’m committed to making good books even better. These days, I’m relentless about working with aspiring authors who are serious about creating books that matter — books that shift perspectives and present information in new, engaging ways.
It all starts with your mindset BEFORE you begin writing.
After you've made a firm decision about your goal to start and finish your book within a certain timeframe, here are 5 things to keep in mind when writing an epic, game-changing book:
#1 Be original - Don't try to copy what mainstream authors are doing or write just like [insert your favorite author here]. Instead, find your voice so that your book sounds uniquely you. Forget reinventing the wheel, make a jet-fueled backpack instead. While it’s okay to choose an unoriginal topic, make it original by giving it new twist or thinking about it from a new angle. This is actually something you should do before you begin writing. In doing so, you’ll actually be closer to writing a good book that actually helps and inspires readers. world. And for pete, jenny and becky’s sake, let go of trying to come up with a sexy book title so that it sells - especially when you haven’t written one chapter.
#2 Tell the truth - As an editor of memoirs, I can easily tell when an author isn’t telling the full story. First, there’s a disclaimer at the beginning about names and details being changed to protect the “innocent”. Then, there are key details that are either missing or vague. If I can tell there’s more to the story than what’s being told, then your readers can tell too that when an author is trying to sugarcoat an incident or person. If you’re going to write a memoir, you going to have to let go of what everyone is going to think about you you have to say. Vividly tell the facts and if you’re scared to put it all out there, keep writing and rewriting until you aren’t scared any more. The world doesn’t need another happily-ever-after or my life-is-made-for-TV movie, they need the a tell-it-like-it-is truth. If it’s good enough, the adapted screenplay will follow in its own time.
#3 Break the rules and then make new ones - Okay, I’m not writing about breaking basic grammar rules. Although in some instances, I do think it's okay. I’ll talk about that in a future blog post. Break rules on things like the traditional writing structure and formatting of books. Play with the idea of incorporating poetry, prose, guest authors, pictures, man-on-the street interviews and other creative elements to enhance the reader’s experience. You can add a Spotify playlist for each chapter of your memoir. One of my favorite fiction books which I think has a unique creative element is the fiction novel Like Water For Chocolate by Laura Esquivel. Her book incorporates actual recipes into fiction literature. Yes, the author could have easily written a book without the recipes, but it adds such a unique flavor (pun intended) to the book. Think about unexpected ways you can create a unique reader experience. A well told story with creative twists are appreciated by readers.
#4 Write for an real life audience instead of for the voice in your head - I know, the voice(s )in your head seem real but they aren’t. The one that tells you yeah, girl (or guy), I know what you’re trying to say. I get it. That’s some good shitake! Meanwhile, everyone else who reads your manuscript is like "huh? I don’t get it." Chances are, your writing is unclear and needs more work (ahem, editing). Good books are designed to connect the author with an audience, not alienate them. You really are creating a relationship through written communication. And while sometimes, a finished book still isn’t going to appeal to everybody, it needs to appeal to somebody other than than you, the author - otherwise, it’s just a diary.
#5 Last but not least, write on purpose. Writing on purpose involves sitting on your posterior, picking up a pen and putting it to paper. You can also place fingers on a keyboard and peck away. Repeat daily and at least several times a week. Each time while doing so, write with a clear intent, a word count goal and most importantly, a powerful purpose that will drive you to getting your book done.
About Alicia N. Ingram
I'm an hard-nosed, yet patient book editor and ghostwriter who's passionate about helping aspiring authors start AND finish their books. If you're serious about crafting a well-written book and are readying to go from idea to action, feel free to email me by clicking here to schedule a complimentary Get Your Book Done strategy session.