Every person has a book in their head that needs writing, but getting the words out can be daunting for a first time author. Sure, you have a great idea, you’ve committed to getting started, and you’re excited to share your voice with the world. But how do you put pen to paper and turn a blank page into a work of art?
Table of contents
- What problems do first time authors face during the writing process?
- 12 Writing tips for new writers
- Expert Tip: Keep writing
- What is the process of getting published for first time writers?
- How do you get your writing and your book noticed as a first time author?
- How do you become a first time author?
- How much can a first time author make?
- How can I be a good beginner author?
- How do new authors get noticed?
- Related articles for first-time authors
- Which of these tips for new authors will you try?
Writing a book can definitely be overwhelming — after all, you’re not writing a term paper — this is an actual book!
Still, becoming a writer is an exciting and rewarding experience, so read on to learn our best writing tips for new authors!
What problems do first time authors face during the writing process?
Before we get into the specific writing tips or steps to take to get your book published, let’s discuss the process of writing the book itself. Many first time authors face similar problems, including the following:
Writer’s block is the most common issue all writers face, regardless of experience. It can be truly soul-destroying when you’re up against a deadline, and the words and ideas seem to be trapped inside you.
Imposter syndrome, low confidence, and self-doubt are common when writing a book, especially as a first time author. You might think, “Who am I to write a book?” or “What if people think it’s terrible?”
It’s normal to feel like this, but try not to let it stop you from completing your masterpiece.
First time authors can find it challenging to juggle finances while facing the mammoth task of completing a book. It’s not a small project, after all.
You might find yourself working another job to support yourself or relying on savings. Some first time writers even take out loans which can start a spiral of debt.
Not having enough time
Not having enough time also ties into struggling with funds. Finding the time and space to write can be challenging if you work another job or care for your family. And if you’re often tired, this can be a natural creativity killer.
Writing a book is incredibly exciting, so it’s tempting to rush in headfirst without a plan of action. But we’ve all heard the saying “fail to prepare, prepare to fail,” which is undoubtedly true regarding authorship.
If you don’t plan your book, it’s likely to end up all over the place, making your project chaotic rather than fun.
Struggling with creativity
First time writers may not have the personal experience to know when they’re most creative. If you struggle to get the words down, you may be writing at the wrong time of day. Do you love mornings, or are you a night owl?
12 Writing tips for new writers
Now that you understand common roadblocks for first time authors, continue reading to learn how to overcome them and produce your masterpiece.
1. Find time to write every day
If one of your goals is to become an author; it’s essential to make time for your writing whenever possible. Even if it’s just an hour a day, try to pinpoint your most creative window and use it to your advantage. Adjust your schedule as needed.
Practice makes perfect with writing, but you don’t always need to focus on book writing to improve your craft. Journaling is an equally creative way to hone your skills by letting the words flow. Another option is to write morning pages to improve your mental clarity.
The idea is simple: you brain dump your mind into three pages first thing in the morning to set you up for the day. Tim Ferriss, author of the extremely popular book, “The Four Hour Work Week” – swears by using morning pages to “write about whatever disturbs the peace of mind.” Why not give it a go?
2. Read regularly
Along with regular writing, one of the next-best tips for new authors who want to improve their writing is to consume! Read as many books as possible to understand the beauty of words and how to structure your work to be engaging.
Read books specifically about the art of writing, those on your topic matter, but also read for pleasure! Consume as much as you can, written by authors you admire, and little by little, you’ll become a better writer.
3. Keep an author swipe file
Build an author swipe file to organize your writing research. Bookmark any pages and paragraphs you read that strike a chord – you’ll then revisit and study them later. You can also use a highlighter pen and a series of Post-it notes.
You’re not looking to cheat or plagiarize but rather to be inspired by the psychology of other people’s writing. With your swipe file, you are learning more about what attracted you to that book title, opening chapter, personal anecdote, etc.
Another option, if you’re reading digitally, is to use a note-taking app like Evernote to build your swipe file.
Make notes of varying sentence structures and paragraph openers you feel drawn to, and add tags to each entry so you can search for them later.
4. Outline your book
A common mistake that first time authors make is to go from that lightbulb moment straight to writing without mapping out the book first.
It’s tempting to rush in, but outlining your book chapter by chapter allows you to dig deeper, and it’s also comforting to know there’s a plan ahead.
Take some time to plot out your book. Identify your hook and work out how you’ll move seamlessly from one chapter to the next. And the killer question: how will you end your book?
Get your outline down, and your writing will flow smoothly. Better yet, you’ll avoid getting stuck partway through.
5. Sign up for a first time author workshop
Attend a writing workshop to meet other writers eager to improve their craft. All are there to be taught by established authors who’ve been there, done that, and got the t-shirt.
You’ll learn the crucial tools of the trade from these creative geniuses by signing up for a workshop, either in your local area or online.
Some also take the form of a writers’ retreat, where you visit a tranquil, inspiring place to tap into your creativity. These retreats are often led by a dedicated writing coach that offers one-on-one support.
It might be an investment, but it can also focus your mind on your book-writing journey and stop procrastination.
6. Network with other first time writers
Connections are vital in any industry, and networking is equally crucial when writing a book.
If you’re serious about completing your book, attend a writers’ group to brainstorm ideas with people in the industry. Your group is a safe space to test new ideas to see if they’ll land with your audience.
Another excellent networking location is at a writers’ conference, where you’ll have the chance to mingle with top literary professionals. You’ll also learn inside tricks, attend Q&A panels, and get a heads-up on which agents are open for pitches.
If you’ve done freelance writing in the past, tap into your network to see who has transitioned into becoming an author!
7. Find your first time author voice
Finding your author’s voice is especially difficult if you’ve ever done any ghostwriting where you effortlessly slip into someone else’s voice instead.
But finding your voice is essential to building your identity as a first time author, and that will make your readers come back to read your second, third, or tenth book!
So much goes into developing your voice – including your vocabulary, tone, syntax, and point of view.
Are you known for being witty, sarcastic, sympathetic, descriptive, or argumentative? Don’t be afraid to experiment!
Write in different voices until you identify the one that feels natural. And once you find yours, flaunt it!
8. Use a development editor as a first time author
Consider working with a development editor to take your writing to the next level. By doing so, you’ll take a step back and see the bigger picture, working on the structure of your book, character development, and plot points.
A good development editor will also provide feedback on your author’s voice and style. And most importantly, they’ll ensure your writing remains consistent with industry standards. Find a development editor online or contact your local writers’ association.
9. Leap over that writer’s block
Famous authors like Harper Lee, Ernest Hemingway, and JK Rowling have all spoken about their experience with writer’s block at some time in their careers.
There may be comfort in knowing you’re in the company of literary greats, but how do you overcome this common obstacle and get your writing mojo back on track?
Start by taking a break from your work. Go for a walk, watch a movie, or chat with a friend – you may find that inspiration floods in from elsewhere.
Once you’ve cleared your head, try these block-clearing tips for new writers:
Break the rules
If you usually write in the third person, why not try a first-person point of view? Or vice versa. You can always edit later once the words are flowing.
Write something else
If you’re feeling blocked on your current project, try writing a different scene, character sketch, or dialogue.
Set a timer
Allow yourself a certain amount of time to write, say 15 minutes, and then write without stopping. Time restraints can break through the barrier of a blank page and lead to a productive writing session.
Read your work out loud
Ask a friend or family member to read your work aloud if you feel comfortable. Or, if you aren’t ready to share your work, read it out loud to yourself.
Hearing the words can help you identify what you like or don’t like about your writing. It can also help you identify clunky sentences or phrases that don’t quite fit.
10. Keep a notebook with you
Knockout sentences and ideas always pop into your head at the most inconvenient times.
It’s so frustrating that these gems appear when waiting in line at the store, when driving, at dinner time, or when you’re trying to fall asleep at night. And, of course, the challenge is making sure you remember them later!
Keep a notebook and pen handy to jot down your fleeting thoughts before they disappear. Use a note-taking app like Google Keep on your phone if that works better.
11. First time writers need breaks
Regular writing is important. However, you may need to take a break from writing your book, and that’s ok!
Maybe you’re suffering from burnout, or you’re not feeling inspired. Life is hectic. Don’t force it – take a break, come back refreshed in a few days with fresh eyes, and make changes if necessary.
“The best way is always to stop when you are going good and when you know what will happen next. If you do that every day… you will never be stuck. Always stop while you are going well, and don’t think about it or worry about it until you start writing the next day. That way your subconscious will work on it all the time. But if you think about it consciously or worry about it, you will kill it, and your brain will be tired before you start.”
12. Editing is your best friend as a first time author
No one writes a bestseller in one sitting. Editing is where you can make your mark and ensure your book is the best it can be. Writing, editing, and rewriting will cut the drivel and create the best possible version of your manuscript.
Hiring an editor is a wise investment before pitching to an agent. But if that’s not possible, editing software programs like Grammarly and Hemingway app can help you clean up your work grammatically.
If an editor is out of budget for you, try sharing your work with friends and family to get their insights. But this can be terrifying and may even put you on the defensive.
Another option is to share sections of your work in a writing workshop to glean some valuable feedback. Discovering how other people receive your writing will tighten up your work and make it shine.
Expert Tip: Keep writingThe more you write, start to identify your strengths as a writer. What sets you apart from other authors? What unique styles, perspectives, and experiences do you bring to your writing? The more your writing stands out, the more it will get noticed.
What is the process of getting published for first time writers?
If you’re entirely unfamiliar with the book-writing process, the traditional route to print is as follows:
Write your manuscript
You’ll complete your manuscript, which is another word for a draft of your book. Drafting is the creative part, where you write down all the ideas swirling around in your head for a long time.
Let the words flow, then edit until you’re happy with the finished work. But at the same time, know that part and parcel of being a creative genius is you may never be 100% satisfied with what you’ve delivered! There’s always room for tweaking!
Eventually, after countless rounds of editing and adjusting, you’ll have to accept your manuscript as is.
Find a literary agent
A literary agent will be there to represent you and your book. Start by researching similar books in your genre and find the relevant agent for each. You can also attend writers’ conferences, as they often have literary agents in attendance.
Pitch to the agent
You’ll pitch your book idea to the agent in a short, straight-to-the-point book proposal. Make the premise clear, explain your USP (Unique Selling Proposition), and explain why the marketplace needs your book right now.
If they like your book idea, they’ll offer to represent you. The agent will work with you to revise and polish the manuscript until it’s ready to go out to publishers.
Find a publisher
Agents will approach publishers with your manuscript and try to get the best deal possible. If a publisher is interested, they’ll make an offer to you via your agent.
Some negotiations will follow regarding advances, royalties(how you get paid), rights, and even recording your audiobook or having an audiobook narrator. Once you’re both happy, you’ll sign the book deal and officially become a published author!
Remember that you can bypass finding and pitching to an agent and work with a publisher directly. This approach may work for you if you have the time to dedicate.
To be successful with this approach, you must understand how to pitch your outline and negotiate with publishers.
You may also choose to publish with a self-publishing platform and altogether bypass using an agent or traditional publisher. Self-publishing could mean more control, higher royalties, upfront costs, and small exposure.
How do you get your writing and your book noticed as a first time author?
As a first time writer, it’s vital to get your work out into the public and build a fan base. With more exposure, your writing can gain popularity and interest, making it more appealing when sending it to a publisher.
Here are some ways to get your book noticed.
If you’re a first time author, you probably haven’t built a fan base yet. One way to do that and expose your writing to new audiences is through writing contests.
Contests can spark new ideas and challenge your writing skills and creativity by presenting different writing topics and themes.
They can also help you build your confidence. If you win, you not only get published, but you can also win money.
In addition to earning a little spotlight, you can also use your new title as the winner to promote yourself to publications.
Platforms like Instagram, LinkedIn, and TikTok are the easiest ways to get your writing into the world. With these interactive tools, you share your writing with others and interact with followers.
Social media helps you to interact with readers and get specific insights and feedback into your writing.
Not to mention it’s an inexpensive way to promote your book.
A website is a hub for all your writing. It’s a place to display your portfolio, share the beginning chapters of your book on your blog, or feature certain writings.
In addition, a website helps you to look more professional when approaching publishers and literary agents.
How do you become a first time author?
Becoming a first time author takes several steps. The first step is to read a lot and understand the art of storytelling. Next, you want to practice writing daily or as much as possible.
Once you get into a writing routine, you can publish short stories on blogs, websites, and social media. Exposing your work to the public is a great way to get feedback before you write your book.
After publishing a few pieces, start researching and brainstorming what type of book you want to write. Choose the genre you want to write about, outline and write your book.
When you complete your book, do a few rounds of editing. It’s also important to get feedback from others. Once you’ve made additional edits, you can submit your book to a publishing company or self-publish.
How much can a first time author make?
The amount a first time author can make can vary depending on the form of publishing. Typically self-published authors can earn between 40 to 60% of royalties from selling their first book.
For traditional publishing, new authors usually receive around 10% in royalties (sometimes less, sometimes more). Generally, publishers will pay authors advances of anywhere between $1,000 to $10,000 on average. Although some authors can get more.
How can I be a good beginner author?
As a beginner author, you want to set a good foundation for yourself. To do so, you must understand the basics of writing, sentence structure, grammar, style, voice, and tone. Continue to perfect your craft by continuously writing, taking workshops or courses, and finding your unique writing style.
In addition, it’s helpful to be an active reader and pay attention to how stories are written when reading different novels and genres.
How do new authors get noticed?
New authors get noticed by consistently showing their work to the public. Ideal places for writers to publish their work include blogs, social media, writing contests, and websites such as Medium.com.
In addition, you can ask to be a guest writer on different blogs or write an article for a popular publication.
Related articles for first-time authors
Were these first-time author writing tips helpful? For more advice, check out these related articles.
- 10 Key Tips For Formatting A Book
- 18 Best Books On Writing For New Authors
- 10 Key Tips For Writers’ Block
- 12 Ideas For The Best Places To Write
- How Many Pages Is 1,500 Words?
Which of these tips for new authors will you try?
Writing a book takes creativity and determination in equal measure. One of the best tips for new writers is understanding how to build a writer toolkit. With the right tools in place, it’s up to you to make them work!
If being a first time author is your dream, it’s absolutely possible. So grasp your idea with both hands, start outlining your book, and put your words out into the world!