How to write a book – the short honest truth

Every author I know gets asked the same question: How do you write a book?

It’s a simple question, but it causes problems. On the one hand, it’s nice to have people interested in something I do. If I told people I fixed toasters for a living, I doubt I’d get many inquires. People are curious about writing and that’s cool and flattering. Rock on.

But on the other hand, the hand involving people who ask because they have an inkling to do it themselves, is that writing books is a topic so old and so well trod by so many famous people that anyone who asks hoping to discover secret advice is hard to take seriously.

Here’s the short honest truth: 20% of the people who ask me are hoping to hear this – Anyone can write a book. They want permission. The truth is you don’t need any. There is no license required. No test to take. Your book idea is worth writing if you think it is. Writing, as opposed to publishing, requires almost no financial or physical resources. A pen, paper and effort are all that has been required for hundreds of years. If VoltaireMarquis de Sade and Marina Nemat could write in prison, then you can do it in suburbia, at lunch, at work, or after your kids go to sleep. You will always find excuses if you want them and most people do. Why? Writing is work. No matter how smart you are or how great your idea is, you will have to put in the time and no one else can do it for you.

It helps to kill the magic: a book is just a bunch of writing. Anyone can write a book. It might be bad or be incomprehensible, but so what: it’s still a book and many published authors haven’t done any better.

Nothing is stopping you right now from collecting all of your elementary school book reports, a years worth of emails you wrote, or drunken napkin scribbles, binding them together at Kinkos for $20, slapping a title on the cover, and qualifying as an author. Want to write a good book? Ok, but get in line since most pro authors are still trying to figure that out too.

Writing a good book, compared to a bad one, involves one thing. More work. No one wants to hear this, but if you take two books off any shelf, I’ll bet my pants the author of the better book worked harder than the author of the other one. Call it effort, study, practice, or whatever you like. Sure there are tricks here and there, but really writing is a kind of work. I like this though: it means anyone who puts in enough time can actually write well. Some of our best writing comes from ordinary people from all walks of life.

Getting published. 30% of the time the real thing people are asking is how do you find a publisher. As if there wasn’t a phone book or, say, an Internet-thingy where you can look this stuff up (start with Jane Friedman’s website). Writers-market is literally begging to help writers find publishers. Many publishers, being positive on the whole idea of communication, put information on how to submit material on their website. And so do agents. The grand comedy of this is how few writers follow the instructions. That’s what pisses off all the editors: few writers do their homework.

The sticking point for most people who want to be authors is, again, the work. They want to hear a secret that skips over the work part. Publishers are rightfully picky and they get pitched a zillion books a day. It takes effort to learn the ropes, send out smart queries, and do the research required to both craft the idea for a book, and then to propose it effectively. So while writing is a rejection prone occupation, even for the rock-stars, finding a publisher is not a mystery. In fact the whole game is self-selective: people who aren’t willing to do the work of getting published are unlikely to be capable of the work required to finish a decent manuscript.

But that said – it’s easier today to self-publish than ever. People look down on self-publishing, but I don’t see why. When people buy books it’s not like they care who published them (“Oh, I don’t read Random House books, sorry”): they only care who recommended or reviewed the book. But again, our tragically unpopular companion, work, is required to self-publish so many prefer to keep asking writers how they got published instead of just doing it themselves. You can read what I learned from self-publishing the first time here (although the technology and options have improved since then).

Being famous and wealthy: Now this is the kicker. About 50% of the time the real thing people want to know is how to become a famous millionaire rock-star author person. As if a) I qualified, b) I could explain how it happened, or c) I’d be willing to tell.

First, this assumes writing is a good way to get rich. I’m not sure how this lie started but writing, like most creative pursuits, has always been a less than lucrative lifestyle. Even if a book sells well, the $$$ to hour ratio will be well below your average corporate job, without the health benefits, sick days, nor the months where you can coast by without your boss noticing. These days people write books after they’re famous, not before. A book can help you gain professional credibility, but then it’s more of a marketing project than a writing project, isn’t it?

And if the only books you read are bestsellers, well, you have a myopic view of the publishing world. Over 100k books are published in the US annually, and few sell more than a few thousand copies. What causes books to sell may have little to do with how good a book is, as we’ve all been mystified by the abysmal bestsellers and surprised by amazing books few seem to know about. Either way, to justify the effort you’ll need reasons other than cash.

Discouraged yet? Here is the upside: I love writing books. I love reading books. Books have profound powers and they’ve changed my life so many times. Maybe the bittersweet challenge of chasing words into sentences suits you. If you want to do this you have my support. GO YOU. Sincerely. I am behind you. But thinking about writing isn’t writing. Talking about it isn’t either. Commit to 10 hours of effort (basically a weekend or two). Write an outline or even just a few pages of a chapter. Take a course that focuses on actual writing and getting feedback. If it feels hard but rewarding, keep going. If it doesn’t, well I think you know.

Here are some practical next steps:

[Light editing: 10/7/2019, 2/4/2021]


1,306 Responses to “How to write a book – the short honest truth”

  1. Gene Hubble

    I’m interested in writing a motivational, self-help type book based on the bible. I know I’d be writting to a select group of people, namely Christians, but hopefully certain others as well. As you might imagine, I have all the resources readily available, which (if you believe in the bible), shouldn’t come into question. I have an idea for the basic format for the book and what it will contain. My question for you is, have you ever written this type of book, and if so, is it basically the same as any other book? Also, can you recommend a site where I can find free instructions for structuring a book? Thank you very much.

  2. steve mottern

    I 65 and have had a very interesting life a need to write about , for my family, my friends, and mostly myself.They know nothing of me as I never did my parents and dont want it to all end that way.any information would be greatly appreciated.Steve

  3. Daniel Kronmueller

    I have just started after long time writing a book. Well my interest is more in fantasy, which you mentioned is far more difficult to compete in, but I will write anyway and do not really care if I ever publish or not. I find it quite easy writing as soon you have a beginning. However I got stuck on the third page and realized that I need an outline to get some directions to were my story should lead and help or guide me in writing the story. I have to admit that my grammar was never particular good. I wished now that I paid more attention at school. Anyway I would like to thank you for you valuable tips.

  4. anne

    Hi I am looking for some help to write a book about a situation that happened over many years. It involves corruption and eventually murder of my Dad. Obviously their was money involved. I have kept a very detailed manuscript of events dates, times, names, places and have many boxes of papers to back everything I say. This involves Courts and Judges, Bankers, Police, many Lawyers, Doctors and many other officials. This happened over many years and the events that took place are absolutely beyond crazy. All my friends say I really need to write a book but I do not know how just need some help. Let me know if you can come up with anything. Thank you very much….just to read some of the statements made by Judges is enough to make you wonder what kind of world we are living in. its truly at most a super sad story.

  5. ana

    Hi, first of all thank you for this article, I felt your words were honest. I really want to write books for children, I have few stories ready and I know I need a publisher of course, but my question is; what about the graphic, the illustrations? I have no idea how to get there, I have the idea of what type of illustration I want but I can’t do it my self. Is this part of the publisher to do or has to come from me? Please help me with some information and sorry if my question was a punch in the stomach :(
    Again thank you,
    Ana Q.

  6. Louie

    I want to write a book about my life. In doing so I also want to write about the people, brothers, aunts, parents and important people in my life that makes the book real. I want to tell of how I was mentally abused by my brothers and want to use my name and their names and dates so their children and family can really see how they really were. How they used people, cheated and lied growing up. Things that they could never know because it is before they were born. I also want to tell of the wonderful and good times. How their treatment of me gave me psychological problems and sexual identity. I want to expose them, for sake of a better word. I already have 15 chapters written. Now I have people telling me that even if it is true that I will be putting myself up for liable and slander law suits. It this true and is there anyway of skirting the issue.

  7. Sharita

    i’ve been writing a book now for 10 years and promised myself that it would be done this year. My problem is publishing it i have no clue. i love to writtting it is a passion i’ve had since i could remember.

  8. Kimberly McCarthy

    Your “Here are some practical next steps” links on your above website do not work, I would love to see them.

    1. Scott

      They should be working now. Site moved to a new host yesterday and there were still some kinks, but fixed.

  9. Amy

    See the thing is, I know what I want to write about. I know what to say and what I want out of it. The only thing is, I have no idea where to start. I have a story that I want to tell not really for a book, but maybe just to get out there. I just have no idea how to even begin.

    1. Scott

      It doesn’t matter where you begin. Unlike sculpture, you can always revise a written work. Start wherever, but start. It’s only after working on it for awhile that you’ll discover a better place to start and you can revise the draft so it starts from that new place.

  10. alley

    i enjoyed the information here on your site, however, as you can see i’m no writer
    i to am looking to write a book, but english and spelling have never been my strong suit. as well as probably being a little a.d.h.d to say the least doesent help!
    i’ve been kicking this idea around for a few years about my life, a book, and alot of people telling me a should write one because hands down it would be a best seller
    im not so sure about that? but yea, when i step outside myself and try and look in to my life, my past, and the fact im still here is kind of amazing,
    the book would be a true story-with all the things that make most great books or movies great, such as action,adventure,romance,addiction,violence,,sex,hardship,heartbreak,coming of age , crime , institutions, self-worth, gambleling and everyday suburbia all rolled into one, it could even be broken into several books with sequals or an ongoing story line…..???
    people sit in utter captivity when i tell them of my story, and i find that amazing because its just the way i was raised and the life ive led? its just everyday stuff to me.
    i guess im asking how to go about haveing a writer help me? i dont mind hard work but im thinking i need an experienced writer to put things in perspective and keep things in order etc….
    any info would be greatley appriciated
    please reply to my email as to what your thoughts are
    thank you,

  11. Sophie

    Hi, I’m 11. I want to be a author but I don’t know what to write about. I want to do Romance, Girly story’s, Sad story’s also Happy ones!
    I don’t know how to start it off.

    1. Lizzy

      Hey, Sophie. I was, (still am), like you, but I’m sixteen now. I’ve written more plotlines than I can remember. Most of them have failed to get past the second paragraph. You can write any book you want, but don’t give up if you fail at one story. Find a way around writers block/plothole or anything else in you way. Don’t give up or in. As for starting off, I always start, (after the pencil, paper, etc.), in the middle of the beginning, where my plotline picks up, then I write the beginning, introducing characters and such. I hope this was helpful. Good luck and Good writing.

      1. srvengadesh

        hi, I’m 14 and I thank veronica as I found her words very useful to me!

    2. veronica

      hi Sophie! I’m 12 and at this moment im my 3 books right now, anyways back to the point. if you don’t know what to write about then what inspires you, do you ever day dream, or have ideas? next time you do remember them! that’s how i came up with my 3 books! for me, how i get ideas is i look out of the car and think. just ask yourself, “what are everyday things i can write about?”

    3. Jessica Balfour

      Hi Sophie,

      The best thing I can say to you is write from the heart about what you know. Think about the books you enjoy and ask yourself why you like them. That will give you an idea as to where to start.

      if you like, visit the blog I have just started, my posts are around the journey my book has taken, from an idea to a first draft, and I will keep posting until it becomes a fully fledged book. Perhaps it might help you!

      1. abdilah

        me to , and i just start writting it, i dont know how i can complete it , cause its to hard.

    4. Old Publisher

      Hi, as a former publisher and current writer, my advice would be to read as much as you can in the field you want to write it and practice. Get a notebook and write stories for yourself. Write essays. Describe how you feel. Over time you will find that you have your own style of writing. That’s good.
      Don’t compare yourself or your writing to your favourite writers. That’s how people get put off. If I thought I was nowhere near as good a writer as Martin Amis (which I’m not!), then I’d be tempted to stop. Look at Dan Brown, one of the biggest-selling authors in the world today, and his writing is terrible! There’s a lesson for you: story is everything.
      Tell a good story and you will succeed.
      But nothing beats practice and perseverance. Keep at it. Think of all the people who gave up for whatever reason… we’ll never hear of them. Don’t be one of them, be one of the ones who is determined to succeed. Then you will.
      Good luck!

      1. Amy

        Thank you for your words…

        “But nothing beats practice and perseverance. Keep at it. Think of all the people who gave up for whatever reason… we’ll never hear of them. Don’t be one of them, be one of the ones who is determined to succeed. Then you will.
        Good luck!”

      2. Sunday

        Thank you for sharing this idea.

      3. Edmund Charles

        To be or become a good writer, one needs to possess passion and imagination for the given subject being written about. Although the old axiom is to ‘write about that which you know about’, does have some validity, it is not a unbroken rule; Jules Verne, Stephen King, H.G. Wells and J.K. Rowling are just a few examples of those who excelled in their craft, which was not anchored in reality or experience. Patience is also another prime element for a writer. A story cannot be forced by sheer determination, it takes time and most importantly- imagination.

        Edmund Charles
        Author (Satan’s Pitchfork; Two-faced; and Agent Provocateur).

      4. Julia Hart

        Thank you for your comment. It gives me hope.

    5. Nina

      Salutations Sophie :)
      I have dreams to become an author and ironically im only 11, due to my age, the chance of anyone publishing our books is low… But dont give up, try and write a touching story about a homeless person who finds a friend in the end… I have many ideas! Unfortunately, I scrap most of them.

      In my opinion I think you should take some of your favourite books and alter them! Tweak them to make them better, but dont use these, they will be practise books. When you have altered many books, begin to pick out of the stories to create a new one.
      Hope it helped,

      1. teresa

        I do not want to know how to write a book. I want to know how to find an author to write it an how to prevent someone from stealing the story after you tell them

        1. Graham

          There are lot’s of people who can help you and I am one of them! The stealing bit is quite simple to sort out and we can discuss if you get it touch.

          1. sherry FranklinFranklyn

            hello Graham I want to write a book a children’s book I have an idea but I don’t know where to go with it wish I could do something with this idea I never wrote anything in my life I’m at Aldis.sorry lost.
            and my idea come from my characters that I drew

        2. Ruth Thompson

          Did you find someone to write your book?

          1. David Young

            hello Ruth
            Not yet still doing a bit research, got the main characters and the murders but not the suspect or the M,O. So still a bit work to do. Tried asking about for a writer but no joy yet still looking or may have to try myself.


      2. teresa

        you did not answer the question the first time

      3. hello

        me too i am trying to get an agent to publish my novels im only 11.

        1. Robert

          You should google or ask your questions on yahoo, just ask how to publish a book?
          I found out that their our sites online that publish your book without questions.
          I don’t think age matters I didn’t see an age requirement or anything like that so you should be fine and good luck.
          I think it said that you have to pay around 20 bucks but other than that they do everything else for you.
          Good luck.

        2. Tara

          My son is 11 and I am helping him publish his first novel. You should talk with your parents to get their help. They should be involved in the process.

        3. Robert

          You can just look up free publishing they will do it for you and they don’t care if you aren’t a good writer.

      4. eja rad

        Hi, Nina:
        It would please me to know that an 11 year old read my story –because the protagonist to my novel is only 9. Please write for a free PDF copy, or for just a synopsis:

        Please mention this article.

    6. Tara


      My son is 11 years old and he is currently over 27,000 words into his first novel. What he does, is he just writes a little bit 4-5 days a week. He is not worried about the length of the book, is just enjoying his characters and having fun putting them into different scenarios.

      If you want to write a novel, just start writing every day. Don’t put any pressure on yourself–just write what you want to, and enjoy it for what it is.


      1. deepa jain

        After listening ur views I’m feeling very satisfied that I also can write a book.

    7. becca

      Hi if this is something u wish your life to rotate around,never give up!im 18 & i have wrote 7 children books from age 13 thru 14 .never published & later thrown away.i never gave up my dream. Im in the process of trying to finish my first chapter book but as always my many attempts stop dead in the middle each time.i always lose the grip i hold at first.i know i will continue with my dream.

    8. Anonymous

      Music, who’s your favourite artist ? Listen to their music, understand their music, thinks about the message in their music, create your own version of that message, put it on paper.
      The best thing you can do is not ask for inspiration but find it instead.

    9. Julie Lynn

      hi im julie Lynn and im writing a book now called: The Story of Kanykreeper and lightmyfire and i think its going well

    10. Edmund Charles


      Congratulations. It is never too early to start writing, even if this is initially limited to letters or a diary. A person who both reads and writes, is never really alone. There are entirely new worlds and experiences that I can make through this great art. I wish you continued future success in your endeavors in the field of writing. Do not give it up.

      1. Tara

        My son is 11, and he just finished his first novel, Shark Tanked. It’s about 30,000 words, and took him about a year to write it. The key is just to keep at it–try to write 250-500 words a few times a week, and before you know it you’ll have a finished novel :)

    11. Christine

      Hi Sophie! Scott included a link to the NaNoWriMo site above. That stands for the National Novel Writers Month (which is held annually in November). It’s an amazing challenge which I’m happy to say I attempted for my first time this year. I think I would have been able to write enough words to officially “win”, but unfortunately my Dad was inconsiderate enough to decide to have severe heart problems that required his hospitalization for more than the last week of the month. ;-) Nevertheless, it gave me the chance to get a good portion of my story figured out & captured on paper, and I’m still continuing to work on it now as I can.
      There’s no real age restriction for NaNoWriMo or the summer program Camp NaNo, but the aspect of this organization that I think you & others like you will find most exciting is their Young Writers Program. I’ll include the link here & you can check it out. You’ll find all kinds of resources there, including a community of other young writers like yourself that are ready & willing to help encourage and motivate each other to reach your goals.
      Don’t let anyone discourage you! If you write, you’re a writer. It’s important to believe in yourself and do the work that’s needed so that others agree. (Check out a writer named Gordon Korman. He wasn’t much older than you when he had his very first Young Adult novel published. And it happened because he knew his story was good & wouldn’t give up!)
      Oops! Sorry to write so much. I guess I better stop so I have some words left to write my novel “A Patchwork of Mystery”. Hee hee!
      All the best, Christine

    12. annie

      if you can think it, you can write it. Just get creative. Look online for ideas. I use old soap operas to help me start a story line. Write for yourself not for anyone else!

    13. Writer

      Greetings Sophie,
      If you want to write a book write dawn all of you’re ideas on paper, and come back to them to get good ideas I have a journal it also helps. You should start by writing a storyline, and speak abut the main carecter at the start of the book, I draw the main carecter and the carecter a before writing, after I write dawn The drawing so I always know what the carecter looks like. Don’t give up if you fail writing one book start another I am writing my 5th book now, I bet you that good writers wrote more then one book before they wrote the good one.
      Hope this was helpful
      Happy writing

    14. Lexi

      Write out a plot line for the story, write about all the main characters characteristics, If you have other characters in the book – which are going to pretty important, be sure to write their role and characteristics as well. Most books have a beginning (introduction), the middle (A problem), then the end (a conclusion). I find that those are easier to write then a more complicated and longer idea. Anyways, please be sure to understand that writing a book takes a very long time. That’s just writing it, most times you will have to edit, etc. How to start off writing a book, is quite hard but once you get the hang of it, quite simple. I would recommend getting a piece of paper and pen and writing done, one sentence to begin your book. For example if it were a romance: My eyes wandered to the boy , who sat next to me in health class.

      Writers block. You might get this frequently, but do not quit because of this. Just bring out your plot line out read over it and if you have to sleep on it!

      I am 13 and have been working on 3 books and continuously get writers block, most times I just have some fun and write paragraphs that might happen later on in the book.

      I dearly recommend writing something that inspires you!! Please don’t worry about what other will think of your book, there will be many people out there who would love to read it.

      Well i better go for now, thank you for listening Sophie.

      I wish you the best of luck Sophie :)

    15. Vanessa

      I just had a dream the other day and I woke up and was thinking about the dream. I thought and said, “You know what? This would be a great book!” and I am going to start writing it today!

    16. duwayne

      I want to do the same I am 19

  12. Chloe

    I just need a motivation push, I have to say that post did help. Never knew It was as simple as that, all along the answers were right in front of me, you pointed out the obvious and I ended up kicking myself, thank you for this. Time to continue my book and think positive, this time I won’t stop, no more breaks for me, I’ve been wasting my time and ended up hitting a dead end trying to cut corners, you taught me to try harder and work for something I truly want and for that I thank you.

  13. Sammy

    I love your sarcasm in this and have to say I’m a little disappointed in your response on how to write a book. Your right in two things, writing a book takes work a lot of work because it isn’t going to write its self and that yes a lot of people have too many stupid questions. If I wanted sarcasm I would’ve searched for that, so good poster of your opinion maybe you could tell us instead of your struggles what worked for you and the challenges you crossed to write your book. that’s what I am interested in, not a useless survey on the stupidity of the most ignorant writer. thank you

    1. mikkyol

      first, of all there are no questions that is stupid. i am no writer but i think anyone that is trying to be a writer should just write what ever comes to mind and the rest will fallow.

    2. Lucas

      You can’t even tell the difference between ‘you’re’ and ‘your’ and you’re going to call someone else ignorant? Right.

  14. gary

    Hi, I am an Iraq war veteran, I was wounded while fighting there. I now have a traumatic brain injury. My whole life I wanted to be a writer, now I am learning how to spell and form words into sentence’s. I am not crying about it, I will write a my books, and sell them. Is there a way to set up a computer that would help me write?

      1. Keke Lopez

        Hello, my name is Keke Lopez, and I have a couple questions to ask based on my favorite author, J.R.R Tolkien. Is it hard writing a book that has so many pages in it? And after writing a book so long do you think it’s hard to to end the book? I like your opinion please.

      2. gary

        thank you all for the best wishes, and advice. it is good to talk to people who want to write, I love everything about writing, It is a wonderful thing to use’s the written word to tell a story. I love syfy, But also want to write the story of the war I fought, and the men I fought it with. So thank you all for the help, I will keep watching this blog.

      3. Sally

        i would recommend Tim (Timothy) Mason, he wrote a book called ‘the best that i can be’ after having a stroke at a young age. He is from the UK, (Devon I think) and has a website that I can’t remember off the top of my head but there are contact details and he can tell you how he wrote it as he has very limited mobility and communicative abilities.. hope this helps!

      4. Louise

        I too am a Veteran, you can go to your nearest Va medical clinic and ask for assistants for a computer and software (Dragon naturally speaking) to assist you with your writting for free, cause your intitaled to get assistance. Go to your primary Dr. And talk to him or her.
        Thanks for serving.
        God bless you & yours

    1. Linh Tran

      Gary awhile back I was told about a program called “Dragon” it’s a speech recognition software. Works very well I haven’t had a chance to use it myself but I know some organizations use it to help veterans especially. Here is a link and good luck thank you for your service!

      Also I would love a copy of your book when you finish! :)

    2. veronica

      yes there is! there is a system called dragon where you can just speak and I will write! hoped this helped!

    3. Jonathan


      Id love to hear your story and possibly help you get it onto paper then print. Reply with your email and in happy to be in touch.

      1. Christine

        Hi Jonathan

        I have been scrolling down this page and noted your email to ‘Gary’ regarding hearing his story and possibly helping him to get it onto paper and print. I am about to start writing my own book which I have intermittently considered over several years now. After much careful thought, consideration and commitment to what I feel is my further direction and destined path, I am now at a point where I feel the time is right to proceed. For several years now I have intermittently felt within me, a desire to write a book about my life which to summarise; has been very troubled. Although I have several times allowed myself to stray from this will, my inner voice consistently returns me to this direction. My aims in writing my book are many. I wish not only to tell the story of my life and my lifelong struggle with depression, but to name but a few within my aims; is my principle desire to inspire others, empower and support inner strengths against adversity, and continue the promotion of understanding those in a plight for survival.
        My question to you is quite simply this… would you be prepared to hear my story and help me in successfully publishing it?

        1. Sandy

          I can relate with your post Christine. I’ve been writing about my life. My problem is that I write and write, yet I’m not sure why I don’t know how to put a period where it’s needed. Or when to make a paragraph. I’d like to be able to write my story to help people to learn about the signs of a child or adults who’s also been abused. If my story helps just one person than I’ve done what I’ve wanted to write about. Does that make sense? Good luck to us both…

          1. JO

            Hi Sandy, don’t worry about where to put periods and puctuation. Just put it where feel it is needed. I’ll be very happy can help you with that, and I can get a good firnd of mine who does proofreading work to further check it. Let me know… get to it… “write now”!!

          2. Sandy

            Thank you very much. I’ve been writing and then something comes up where i need to stop. But I really do need to finish, if i touch one person then I know my book needed to be written.

    4. brian cotton

      hi there i was at a computer fair a few years ago and there was a computer that when you spoke through a mike it wrote rthe subject matter for you i dont know the extent of your injuries but felt this might be of help i do feel that a computer like this could well be expensive but might be worth looking in to

    5. Mary

      You can get the dragon software at walmart. It will type while you talk. Good luck!

    6. Susan

      Hi Gary, The ipad 5 has a feature that may be helpful to you. You speak and it types the words. Good luck, and God bless you. Susan

      1. Edmund Charles

        Ack. If dictation works for you that is great, however, I find either typing or writing in long-hand a preferreed method. the art of dictation began to become a lost craft in the 1960s.

    7. tony

      Gary, Your story is the most important element of what you write. If you live in a community with a good public library you might find someone who is very able to do the typing and composition with you. There are writers’ groups in most cities and there is a lot of interest and support for returning veterans now. Some people write short stories and publish them as columnists in periodicals, others take on the bigger job of collecting and organizing an entire book. Your service experience will remind you not to try to do it all alone. Gather friends, make it a team effort. You already know how to do that. You are going to supply the meat and potatoes, let your team mates who know how do the cooking. Respectfully, an Air Force veteran and American Patriot. Best wishes for a good writing experience!

  15. Jasmine

    Hi, im fourteen now and i want to become a writer. i love reading books and i have always wanted to be a writer since i was at a younger age. i love fiction novels and i want to write fiction novels. My problem would be that i don’t know how to start one. Does anyone have any advice?

    1. Aayush

      start with something you love. Personally I love Dragons, and that’s where I started- let your heart and your mind run wild:)

  16. Nicholas Moraitis

    I’m 39, I’ve been writing since I was 9. I have tons of material and lots of great stories that I know other would find interesting. However my spelling and grammar is absolutely atrocious. Although it may seem by this note that I may be over exaggerating a bit but most of this is just spell check and the few words it encompasses are easy to edit. Several hundred pages are a bit different. I think I need an editor before I decide to spend the money publishing anything. Does anyone have any advice for me? Thank you…NM

    1. Sandy

      Oh my I found someone who has the same problems I also have. As I’ve been reading these posts it just hit me that a few years ago I bought the Dragon program. Yet one of my problems is I can’t afford to pay for my story to be told. I wish us both the best on getting the help we need. Have a good day!

  17. teresa

    how do you find someone to write a book for you an keep them from syealing your story?

  18. Adam – web designer calgary

    As the Internet allows for basically anyone to get published, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to find quality material, so having a post dedicated to web books is a great idea.

    1. Beatrice

      How many computer pages does it take to write a fictional novel?

  19. Andrew Wash

    Just a sniplet of my Book: The Book of Prophet Cha Cha : The Most High has always been with me, He has given me the best Job known to mankind, he’s always writing text for the future generation that are to come, our lives are only a drop in the bucket, I’m so glad that he’s given me the opportunity to help those who choose life over death, he’s given so much to I feel like I don’t deserve his gracious gifting,we all will face our deaths, but are we prepared to die, I love the Ahba, life is never easy, we must learn both sides, because our father works in dimensions, forces, light years, and everlasting lights, can anybody stop what has already predestined to come, I Prophet Cha Cha,

  20. Jeff - Profe

    I loved reading your advice to aspiring writers! I know that it all comes down to hard work and discipline. The issue is that there are so many other things in my life that also require hard work and discipline such as getting six-pack abs, making a million dollars, learning Mandarin Chinese and on a more serious note being a good father and husband. I have so much trouble balancing it all. I am hopeful that if I start out small I can work up to something big. Recently, I submitted a children’s story to Highlights. They didn’t use it but I know it wasn’t the best I can do. I am going to keep trying with small stories and articles and trust that with time I will get better to the point where my stories will one day turn into books that make a difference in the lives of others. Thanks Scott for your encouragement I will be on the lookout for your books the next time I am at the library.

  21. friv

    Writing a good book, compared to a bad one, involves one thing. Work. No one wants to hear this, but if you take two books off any shelf, I’ll bet my pants the author of the better book worked harder than the author of the other one. Call it effort, study, practice, whatever. Sure there are tricks here and there, but really writing is a kind of work. Good post. I need it

  22. Kate Mitchell

    I have a question/problem that I have been struggling with. In lots of books I read there are I guess you would call it cut sceans. Example; Lets say the main male person in the book is in a alley in a fight and after a few pages of the fight scean he gets shot or stabbed and falls to the ground and the scean ends. Then on the next page it jumps over to the main female in the book to what is happening where she is at and after a few pagers or even a chapter it will go back to the alley where the sceen of the man left off. My issue is when writing that do most writers write the whole thing all at once and its later broke up when eddited or is it written as its put in the book? Or does it depend on the writer? Any advice on this would be a great help. Thanks, Kate

    1. Scott

      Kate: First, check your spelling. It’s scene, not scean.

      To answer your question there is no single way and it depends heavily on the writer and how they like to work. Some writers make detailed outlines before they write their first draft. Others improvise their way through the first draft and revise their way into a structure. There is no right way to do it, just as there isn’t a right way to do most creative things.

  23. livi

    okay so I have been wanting to write a book for a while now but I just cant think of what to write about.

  24. Aayush

    Its quite easy to publish online- and if you publish a free online book on ePub or something, you can release your next book at a price, once people have heard of you and you’ve made a name for yourself- you’ll likely make more money that way

  25. Judy S

    My name is judy and i been wanting to write a book for several years, about my life the stuggle of abuse and then abuse of my children and with death of my father and other stuff. I just dont know how to start, were to begin and if i spell thing wrong and how the format suppose to be ect.
    I have so much to say, but i dont know if i should just go to microsoft and just start writing or just have someone to help???
    I would love the advise. my email is

    1. Rober

      Okay so let’s Start with Your Life and What parts you Want to Write about.
      Your First example was about your struggles of abuse and the abuse of what ever happened to your children.
      You write down what happened and who abused you and your children and what you felt when he or she did this to you and your children.
      Anger or sadness or fear.
      Then you mentioned about the death of your father.
      So write down how he died and how you felt when he passed away.
      And write down about these other stuff that you didn’t mention that you wanted to write about.
      You should go on microsoft because it has spell check.
      Writing a book is all about feelings.
      So whatever comes to mind it is your feelings.
      Express your feelings.

  26. Keenan

    Judy, first off so sorry about the things you experienced. You should get great merits from that alone, but the fact you want to talk about it is a blessing in itself. It sounds like you can help a lot of people make wiser decisions with your story.
    In contrary, it also sounds like Microsoft Word will fit what you are looking for since you are concern about errors, spelling etc. Microsoft will automatically highlight words and grammar that are wrong. It is very beneficial. Like you I have been working on a book for several years and the best method I have noticed is just write, write, write. The practice you get from being persistence is so immaculate. You’ll be amazed at how much you flourish with consistency. Good luck to you on your future endeavors and get that story out and save some lives.

    1. Sandy

      I totally agree with you about what Judy posted, Keenan thanks for your post. Indeed also going to try using Microsoft word for my story. Thanks for your post. Have a good day.

  27. friv

    Judy, leading so sad about the things you encountered. You ought to get extraordinary benefits from that alone, yet the actuality you need to discuss it is a gift in itself. It seems like you can help quite a few people settle on smarter choices with your story.

    In opposite, it additionally seems like Microsoft Word will fit what you are searching for since you are worry about failures, spelling and so on. Microsoft will naturally highlight words and language structure that aren’t right. It is exceptionally gainful. Like you I have been dealing with a book for a few years and the best strategy I have recognized is quite recently compose, compose, compose. The practice you get from being constancy is so impeccable. You’ll be astonished at the extent to which you thrive with consistency. Good fortunes to you on your future attempts and get that story out and spare a few lives.

  28. xomuka

    This is a great article. It gave me a lot of useful information. thank you very much.

  29. Sandy

    I’m so glad I found this (your) page/ site. Thank you….

  30. lawson wilfred

    hi my name is lawson wilfred
    am a chef cook 12 years of experience
    my growing up with the society make me know more about my self and what is my dreams and good in it
    I also fund out easily that I can solve a problems or explain with my own mind to a couples off people’s to believe and like thet fact and the idea of it some call me professor…cansler…romance boy and all that.
    my previous life start make me know the good and the bad special with friends and wuman how to dictate them… get them by clases and what to tell them…so much I have for the word to know and I come with the Idea of righting a book. the good part of it is that my wife also noticed it and ready give me a title of my book if only I can make it life. please help me I am the man of life storys .

  31. Benita

    Hi I’m 13 and I am currently writing a book with my cousin. She is also 13 but I was wondering if you think it will work. We are both writing from the points of view of two different characters, it is going well at the minute but I’m not sure if it will stay together through out the book. My aunt is an author and so is one of my uncles.

    1. Tara

      If you and your cousin have found a way to work together, that sounds great. If you have concerns whether or not this is going to ‘work’ until the end of the book, you might want to consider taking a step back and writing an outline of the entire book that you both agree is the right direction for the story.

      Many writers write together in writing teams, and how each team accomplishes their goal is unique to them.

      Keep on writing! It can really help to have a writing partner, because you support each other through the process too :)

      1. Rober

        This is why I write my own books so their wouldn’t be any problems.
        If you two can’t settle this problem out then you two shouldn’t be writing a book together.
        Let me know how it goes I’m curious.

  32. nayebare emmanuel

    thank you for what you are doing and I hope you will help me.

  33. Brad

    I work for a one stop in book publishing.. send me a note on the website for more info.. stress free book production..

  34. Sandra

    This website gave me so much valuable information. Basically told me get off my ass and write. I opened a blog like all the sites said and have been writing abut my life living with scleroderma a auto-immune disease. It has been a lot of hard work. One of the most difficult parts I find is writing about the past, I get too into the moment and it affects me. My blog is called Living la vida scleroderma on facebook. please visit it. My other problem is looking for a title. No clue. I have 160 pages so far. I hope 300 pages will be enough. I am going to send it to publishers. If I get turned down I am going to self publish. I will have someone edit it when I am done. Wish me luck. My question how do I go under another name when I publish my book?

  35. Crystal

    I’m trying to write a book now and I’m feeling so anxious about it. I don’t want to write my book to be an Arthur or to get money from the book. I just want to help someone who has lived or is living the life that I have lived. I just want to help someone who feels like they are alone when really they are not.

    1. Tara

      That is a *great* reason to write a book–to share information that could help someone else. Whenever you start to feel anxious about it, just remember the people you want to help to give you some strength. The book doesn’t need to be perfect, it just needs to be finished. All the best to you :)

  36. caty

    i have many ideas i think i’ll wright a book but i wont publish it! cause im only 18 i don’t think anyone will look at it >_< !

  37. darkocean

    Yes its hard work, and more hard work, and even more hard work. You know what? Watching that crap first draft turn into a not bad 2nd draft into a better 3rd draft has been a fun, hard won process. My draft is on and getting feedback to the book had been crucial, with the critics help on there I’ve been able to fix problems much fast and learn at a faster rate because the problems I couldn’t see before are spotted by them. Now mend you no critic on their is perfect, as most of the them (the don’t want to admit it of course) too are newbie authors, who simply have studied more.

    Try wattpad out one of the steps in the writing tip websites is to get beta readers, you can do that on wattpad (critics, they give feedback. Later on as your story gets better your fans will start doing that for you.) Any ways to get to the point I feel that an author has to write the story for the joy of it, it your doing it for money, fame, your not going to get far IMO. I do plan on taking a stab at getting published, but not before it’s ready. I’ve been on this draft two years not and the story has evolved. Try this, save a copy of your first draft to look at another time, now put ti way and ignore it. A few months later save your edited-revised story two, now compare them both. Can you spot all the mistakes in the first draft (cringe) I can it’s bad, no its awful! Now look at your second draft to you see any of your old mistakes in there? If so fix them.

    Anyways, writing is an art, so you need to do it for the joy of it nothing else. If other people end up likening it then great :)

  38. carolinejohnsoon

    I’m 80 years of age. Could write and full a library full of books with my lifetime experiences ! However I wish too only condense and write certain issues that I feel would be of interest to future readers as well as myself ! In my college days I recall taking a course in book writing ! I am interested in getting help from someone somewhere in guiding me in connection with where too start a book (or introduction thereto) re: what has interested me most in my lifetime. Can you help me with this issue? Thanking you in advance- Sincerely -Caroline Johnosn

  39. waqar

    when i was 18 year old my grandfather told his story which is very interesting. The thing is that story was real he was in ww2. And fight against germani. Ally with British. Then there is so horror terrifying thing happens he told me evry thing every detailed. First i don’t believed that because i saw movies like this but this was some how different. Then i realised he was right those movies make now a days that time of there was no movies. Now i want to right it. But those horrible things that happened how can i described those.

  40. waqar

    When I was 18 year old my grandfather told me his story that happened to in ww2. He was there fighting against germani and ally with British from Hindustan side. First i don’t believe it but then he told me those horrible thing that happened there. Running starving thirsty. Killing was not easy he say but when he saw those germans do to people he never mercy on them by killing. I have all those in my head like i am there. We saw mostly movies but that was different. Those cruelty i can’t describe it. I want to wright but when i start i saw like its me there. I dont think i can continue it or finish it

  41. Amy L.

    I would like to write a book about what it is like to cope with being an adult “child” of a parent who is newly incarcerated for the first . There are tons of resources out there to help young children cope with their parents or loved ones being locked up. However, when my parent got locked up last year I couldn’t find anything for people my age or anywhere close to my situation to help. I was at a loss & had no clue what to do. I want to share my story & hopefully help other people. Do you think that this is something that is a good idea, or even possible? It would be very personal. Although every situation like this is somewhat different, if it could help just one person I would be willing to do it. When my parent got arrested I was and a newlywed (to a police officer mind you), and a mother of a 4 and a half year old son and a 1 and a half year old step daughter. Luckily my step daughter didn’t really know my incarcerated parent but explaining to my son what happened to his grandparent was totally uncharted territory & I had no idea what I was doing. I’m welcome to any ideas or feedback. Thank you!

  42. Anastasia

    It can be difficult to start writing a book alone. I have created an app that will show you a new way to write a book by sharing your story with somebody else. It helps you to get creative by writing book together and bring it to the end. Maybe it helps you also to start and complete your own book in the future. Just start printing your thoughts and others will join to your story. Don’t know how to start? Just read others stories, choose a favorite one and keep company.
    Check out our android app:
    We will appreciate your feedback and comments.

  43. Phuti

    I’m Phuti I want to write a book dat talking about true love I’m done with it if u accepts my comment contact at 0761766802

  44. Evelyn Castanon

    I would like to write about my experience in th field I work in. I have seen it all. Good ,bad and ugly. How can I start? I have ideas in my head.

  45. Grace

    I’m 14 and I love writing. I write poems, and short stories. I’m in the middle of writing a book now, and I’m happy with how it’s turning out. I’m wishing to write many books to show readers my world of creativity.

  46. atiya

    Hey ur article was very useful thank u … But I’m unsure of one thing …. To get my book published , must I write it down or type it out on sumthing ? I’d appreciate ur assistance thx

  47. Lenor

    I’m only 16 and i started working on a novel when i was 7 years old. Of course the fantasy novel was childish back then. After so long, i have made hundreds of characters, and their back stories. I have spent many years on making maps, cities and such things. Now i’m working on different ypes of languages, took me one year just to make a few words in a language.

    I really hope my novel will be famous one day :)

  48. angayyazi

    My book its abt my lyf
    This is only a summary of it.
    Whn I ws young I lvd at de village and we used to sleep without food and my mom wil sleep with so called man so dt she could get money and buy food for us.I used to hear her when she is sceaming while hvng sex so whn I ws grewing up thought dt sex ws a good thing a hd sex with so many boys even my cousinS.whn I moved to freestate de were no boys dt I knew so I started hvng sex with my pillow and it is difficult for me to stop now.plz help me if anyone can plz help me.

  49. Jordan

    I have not read all of the comments because there are quite a lot in here but it seems that a lot of people are asking about what step they should take first. I am no professional writer but after researching over and over again, I finally grasped how to start my book. Many of you may be interested in what is called “The Snowflake Method”. It is an easy way to break down your story from something general to something detailed. Another way is to just write. You can always go back and edit, don’t forget that! Just write anything that comes to mind. I have a usb stick with my story along with many MANY folders. I have a folder for characters, backgrounds, chapters. Everything. When I feel I’m stuck on my story, I go and create a character that I could use in the future to maybe open up an idea to further progress my book. The key thing was mentioned in the article: it takes lots of dedication and work to come up with a book that isn’t so “mickey mouse”. Just take your time with it and have fun!

  50. David

    hi I want to write a book, I have an idea from my previous position as a police officer. I know the plot and what the story is about but I am not a writer. I am looking for advice on where to start and get the basics.
    Hope you can help.

  51. Nathan

    I thought I was a little young to start writing at 16 but seeing all these 11 and 12 year Olds inspires me I’ve been through a lot of ideas in the past year in a half but finally hit a story that I’ve been piecing together quite nicely I’ve been working on it for 3 months now in horror genre who would of thought of all genres lol anyways main thing is if u get a idea don’t be afraid to abandon it but for practice take any idea or subject and expand it and add as much detail as possible it will give you a diffrent perspective when writing good luck to all

  52. Deborah L

    I write fantasy, and ideas aren’t always a problem for me. It’s stringing those scenes together that’s a killer! A writer can only flash-forward so much, and sometimes a scene transition needs a smaller gap to jump without losing the reader completely. Any advice?

  53. Brian

    Great page I laughed out loud.

    I typed, “When not stoned I start writing novels in my head” into the address bar. Hoping for relief, as it is midnight.

    I just read a chapter of Milian kunis, and I tortured my self with Gulag Archapilago, last year. I want to write about how we are no better off then the communists: I feel I live in a society like that but just with more food.

    I do not have a question, but thanks for making me laugh. Any other losers out there, who want a writing partener who cannot spell: Write me at

    I will now write into the address bar: “Sleep remedies, besides Icecream with bananas”


  54. Janette Warwick

    Hi Scott

    Thanks for the excellent tips about writing. You mentioned with self publishing that you may not go that way again. I’d be interested to hear why you would, and wouldn’t self publish again.

  55. chelley

    Hi, ive been thinking about writing a book for a few years but never had the courage to actually put oen to paper, i trued a few times and lacked confidence in what i had written, and binned it!! I am leaning mire towards a story partly autobiographical, and adding some exagerated carachters and storylines, however its putting it into a beginning middle and end, where to start? I have so much to put on paper my brain often freezes. Thanks to all the wise information given here, i am more passionate than ever and hopefully can start to organise my thoughts. Thank you all :) !!

  56. Michelle Lyon

    Hi, ive just seen this , and I currently have a wide range of idea’s floating around, i am leaning more towards a autobiographical true story but with the addition of further carachters but have yet to feel confident enough to give it a real try, ive put words on oaper gingerly, but they ended up in the bin!! My issues really, are where to start, putting a beginning middle and end and organising it. After reading all the words of wisdom above i am feeling more comoelked to actually take a risk, after all, ill never know if i can until i give it my very best shot. Thank you all for the great replies and advice to others on here, i shall take a lot of it and put it into oractice.

  57. Adam

    i would like to know some info on writing a factual story about a persons life who is currently in prison for his crimes.
    What permission do i need as such? and if he gives permission what exactly do i need in writing?
    Is there any other problems, both legal and from other people i could face?
    Any help would be great,

  58. Izealia Thompson

    Dear Scott,
    Thank you so much for your encouraging words. I was inspired to write a book yesterday from watching the “I Have A Dream Speech” during class. Everything you said has motivated me to pursue dreams of writing my first book and getting it published. I actually cried whole reading your words. I feel you believe in me and we haven’t ever met. May God continue to bless the work of your hands and your brilliant mind.

  59. elisheba watson

    hey i was just wondering of how to write a proper book. like its about my life and i dont know the details on how to write them like a normal writer would. how do i start and stuffs, cause i wanna write a book based on my life.

  60. Karl

    Just asking if some one has ideas of a story’,that was thought up just like a film. It was like a step by step of a movie from a dream that some one had.but now the twist is my friend can not right or read or write as he has dyslexia.but when he told me about it it was a good story , but he has never even looked at a book ,so how can he get help to make his dreams in to a book ,wow just looked over what I have put forward for help.some one could make a book out of this twist in fate lol.but why I am trying for him is when he told me ,he has dreams and wakes up at around 4 am and try’s to record his movie he had dremped of inside his head all in all has he got any chance of getting his storeys told

    1. Jim

      Okay, seriously, this was great. I like your honesty and I agree with all your tips! I am also going to write a book about one famouse woman in my country.



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