The Most Common Question I Hear: “I want to write and publish a book. Where do I start?” – by Angela Hoy

The Most Common Question I Hear: “I want to write and publish a book. Where do I start?” – by Angela Hoy

I received the following email last week:

“I am a mother of three, and was laid off a year ago, I have consistently been looking for work. While looking, I began to make notes about my experiences. I’d like to turn my notes into a book. Any assistance would be appreciated. Thanks in advance.”

I receive questions like this one almost every day. It seems everybody has a book in them…while others end up writing a book after having no plans to do so. Unfortunately, most folks want to get their book published, but don’t have a clue where to begin.

This writer in particular had been taking notes about her experiences. She could easily start organizing those into an outline.

While there are numerous books on the market that teach writers different processes for starting and completing books, it’s really not that difficult as long as you put yourself on a schedule.

Seriously. Having a firm writing schedule is the #1 tool required to finish a book. If you aren’t on a schedule, it’s unlikely your book will ever be completed.

When I’m working on a book, I write first thing in the morning, before I do any other computer work at all. If I make the mistake of checking my email, I’ll end up going down a rabbit hole that lasts for several hours while I answer questions from hopeful writers and authors, converse with the printer, or one or more of our contractors, delete (and scream at) spam, etc. By the time I finish all of that, it’ll be after noon. So, when I’m working on a book, I never, EVER do anything on my computer until I have met my daily goal, which is usually 2,000 words in one sitting.

There are two pretty basic ways to get your first draft down on paper (or a computer screen).

1. Write an outline (or a preliminary table of contents). Include basic information you want to include in each section or chapter. Then, start writing, beginning with the introduction (if your book will have one). Of course, during the writing process, the path of your writing is likely to change and you should update your outline/table of contents frequently to keep yourself organized.

2. Skip the outline (or preliminary table of contents), and just start writing. Don’t stop each day until you’ve met your daily word count goal. Editing can come later.

I’m very organized so I prefer method #1 for non-fiction (which is most of what I write). For fiction, I will usually have a very loose outline to follow but most of my fiction is written quickly, right off the top of my head, without much organization. I let my characters’ lives dictate the direction in which my fingers travel on the keyboard. This works for some people but not for all.

After the basic meat of my book is complete, I’ll begin the editing process. If you’re good with spelling, grammar, and punctuation, editing may not be as daunting as you think. Check out the self-editing process here: Editing Your Own Book for Financial Reasons? When Authors Can’t Afford an Editor

If you need to hire a freelance editor, check out these fine folks for a quote.

My next step on completing my book is revamping the table of contents, and tweaking the introduction (to more closely match the final content of the book). I’ll add a bibliography and index (for non-fiction) and, if necessary, I’ll go ahead and format the file to make it look nice so I can send it to some potential readers for comments (for feedback, as well as to use in my initial marketing). At this point, I’ll go ahead and get our designer working on the cover. He is AMAZING!!!

Next, I’ll have it published through, of course. 😉

I’ve heard from so many people over the years who dreamed of writing a book, but just couldn’t figure out how to do it. Starting with an outline, and being on a schedule, are the secrets to getting that book started AND finished.


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Read more columns by Angela here:

Got questions about Print On Demand and Self-publishing? Ask Angela Hoy.

About The Author


Angela Hoy is the publisher of, the author of 19 books, and the co-owner of (one of the original POD publishers that still gets books to market in less than a month), (print and ebook design for authors who truly want to self-publish), and Abuzz Press (the publishing co-op that charges no setup fees).

Angela has lived and traveled across the U.S. with her kids in an RV, settled in a river-side home in Bradenton, FL, and lived on a 52 ft Irwin sailboat. Angela now resides on a mountaintop in Northwest Georgia, where she plans to spend the rest of her days bird watching, gardening, hiking, and taking in all of the amazing sunrises. - the free marketing ezine for writers, which features new paying markets and freelance job listings every Wednesday. - According to attorney Mark Levine, author of The Fine Print, BookLocker is: "As close to perfection as you're going to find in the world of ebook and POD publishing. The ebook royalties are the highest I've ever seen, and the print royalties are better than average. BookLocker understands what new authors experience, and have put together a package that is the best in the business. You can't go wrong here. Plus, they're selective and won't publish any manuscript just because it's accompanied by a check. Also, the web site is well trafficked. If you can find a POD or epublisher with as much integrity and dedication to selling authors' books, but with lower POD publishing fees, please let me know."

Abuzz Press offers FAST and FREE book publication, but only accepts a small percentage of submissions, and only works with U.S. authors. - "We Prep, You Publish!" Print and ebook design for authors who truly want to self-publish. Offers formatting and design services only, and then provides simple instructions for authors on where to sign up to have the print and ebook editions printed/listed/sold. Cut out the middle man. Keep 100% of what bookstores pay for your book!

Angela's POD Secrets Revealed Series can be found HERE.

Have a POD Book with another publisher? See if BookLocker can give you a better deal. (BookLocker offers "disgruntled author discounts" to those who want to move from other POD services.)

See BookLocker's publishing packages HERE.


BOOKLOCKER ON FACEBOOK - Provides links to free excerpts!



Angela is the creator of the Original 24-Hour Short Story Contest!

Read More Of Angela's Articles HERE



90+ DAYS OF PROMOTING YOUR BOOK ONLINE: Your Book's Daily Marketing Plan by Angela Hoy and Richard Hoy

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One Response to "The Most Common Question I Hear: “I want to write and publish a book. Where do I start?” – by Angela Hoy"

  1. pamelaallegretto  May 26, 2017 at 1:53 pm

    I agree with your suggestion to write first, before checking emails, websites, and FB.They can really suck up a lot of valuable writing time. Now, if I can only force myself to take that advice.