4 Crucial Steps To Get From Book Dream To Published
by Lisa Appelo
“Ooh, I’d love to write a book someday,” I told my aunt as we reapplied lipstick in the ladies room mirror. She’d just published her second true-crime novel in her 60s, making my book aspirations seem doable.
“Yeah, everyone says that,” she replied, turning to leave. And just like that, my book dream felt shelved along with countless other someday authors.
But that passion to publish a book returned a few years later. I’d walked through deep grief after my husband’s sudden death, and I wanted to reach back to the grieving woman a few steps behind me and help her find hope to move forward. That book was published last year, and I learned some crucial steps along the way.
Here are four actionable steps you can take now to get from book dream to published.
- Start writing. Before tackling a book, every writer should develop voice and craft through consistent writing. Blogging is one of the best ways to develop writing techniques and a routine. Freelancing for other websites and publications is another way to improve writing. And microblogging — creating short posts on social media like Instagram and Facebook — is a third way to sharpen skills. These three are also great places to test content. After hitting publish, note what resonates and what doesn’t. Mine the comments for additional writing ideas. Float different methods and tweak topics to settle into your unique voice and style.
- Learn about the publishing industry. COMPEL has a library chock-full of teaching from first-time and multi-book authors, acquisitions editors, developmental editors, literary agents, marketing experts and more. Knowing what literary agents look for will help you write a better book proposal. Knowing what acquisition agents want will help you find a unique angle. And learning how to market your book will help get it into the hands of readers once it’s published.
- Make connections. Developing relationships with other writers and published authors will serve you well in publishing. How to make authentic connections? Join a COMPEL critique or focus group, attend a writing conference like She Speaks, and follow other writers, authors and agents on social media and then honestly engage with their posts. The colleagues you meet and friends you make as you work to publish will become sounding boards, prayer partners and your biggest cheerleaders.
- Find your readers. It’s not enough to have a story. Published writers know their readers’ stories. Get to know your reader in the comments to blog and social media posts. Respond to their emails and direct messages. Pay attention to what readers are asking and what content moves them. What keeps your reader up at night? What is her biggest hope and hardest struggle? The better you know your reader, the greater your writing will serve her and the more she’ll return to your words again and again.
There’s one more crucial step in publishing: trust God’s timing. When I started with a story and desire to write, I figured if I worked hard, it might take two years to get a publishing contract. But friends and colleagues published books before me, and I often felt overlooked.
I kept at these four steps, trusting God’s plan and timing. As I persisted, my writing got better, I learned more about publishing, I developed real friendships in the industry, and I came to know my reader’s heart. None of that time was wasted, and my book would not have been what it is if I’d insisted on skipping steps.
Offer your book dream to God, and trust that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion.
Cheering you on,
What step do you most need to focus on right now? Share in the comments below, and let us cheer you on!
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