How to Write a Book: 13 Steps To Write A Book That Sells

Editor’s Note: The following article was originally written by Brian Tracy. It has been updated and rewritten to address current events and provide further value. Please note that the opinions and views shared here may or may not reflect the original author’s views.

There are more than 2,000,000 books published each year and yours can be one of them.

You have the ability, right now, to write and publish a book on a subject that is important to you. Like riding a bicycle, learning how to write a book is a skill that you can master with practice and repetition.

According to USA Today, 82% of adults dream of writing a book someday….

Either to express a heart-felt concern about a subject, teach something important to them, to earn a living, and even become successful.

Here’s are the exact steps to write a book:

Start BEFORE You’re Ready

The key to writing a book – or anything else of value – is to “Just Write!”

Writing is one thing that you cannot get worse at by doing it.

It doesn’t matter if you’re regularly creating blogs and emails or if you’re brand new.

Dean Graziosi, author of several best-selling books including Millionaire Success Habits, has severe dyslexia – and struggles to this day with writing back to emails.

That didn’t stop him – and nothing should stop you.

I did not graduate from high school, and I failed high school English.

I fantasized about writing a book for many years before I decided to “Just Write!”

In 1981, I began giving talks and seminars to ever large groups.

To speak effectively, I had to do hundreds of hours of research, and read hundreds of books over the years.

To keep current, I read dozens of magazines and thousands of articles. I’d read many of them several times.

After I continuously immersed myself in books, I realized there was a powerful process that was used time and again:

Start with a strong chapter that gives a lot of value and benefits to the reader, develop the subject throughout the books, and end with a strong chapter that summarizes and emphasizes the main points.

It is a simple formula, but it works, over and over.

Today, I write four or five books each year and am published by seven different publishers in the U.S., as well as dozens of publishers in 38 languages and 58 countries. I have sold millions of books on a wide variety of subjects.

It doesn’t matter where you start – but none of the other steps to write a book matter if you don’t begin putting your thoughts on paper.

Be An Expert

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You must be an expert on your subject and know ten words for every one word you write.

Readers will know if you’re making things up.

For instance, if you want to write on success, you must already be successful.

If you write on money, you must already be rich.

If you write on relationships, you must be happily married.

Think about an area, subject or topic that you have experiences in that make you an authority on a subject.

If you’re incredibly passionate about a topic, but don’t yet consider yourself an expert in that area, then your first step is to immerse yourself in learning.

I don’t mean to suggest that you need decades of research and wisdom before anyone will care to learn from you…

But you should be able to help your readers get results faster and more easily than they could if they tried to do the work by themselves.

Once you know which topics you can speak about as an expert, it’s time to…

Expand Your Knowledge

Confidence is an important thing to demonstrate with your written words.

If you feel unsure about your topic, the ideas you present and how you structure your arguments, your audience may not believe you.

Buy, read and learn everything you can about other authors, books or articles dealing with the same subject.

See how they approach the area you’re interested in.

Look for topics and subjects that you disagree with, things you could explain better or more clearly, and areas where knowledge is missing.

This will help you tremendously during the writing process.

Find Your Passion

While it’s something that ANYONE can do, writing a book is very difficult.

There’s one way to make the process more challenging: Write about something that doesn’t interest you.

The starting point for your book should be a message, idea, or story that you really want to share with other people.

This must be something for which you have a passion, something that you believe in.

One of the best definitions of a writer is: “A person who cannot NOT write” – so ask yourself, what is already easy for you to talk about?

An easy way to start your flow of ideas is to ask yourself what you enjoy learning about or sharing with other people.

How could your knowledge, expertise or ideas in this space be of value to readers? What could you teach them to do?

By asking yourself these questions before you start the actual writing process, you can trigger a great idea that can help you single out a specific subject to base your book on.

A Big Idea (That’s Easy To Explain)

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Sone of the most successful books of all time have been written about one ‘Big Idea’ that’s easy to grasp and understand…

Yet immensely complex and detailed – for example, “How To Win Friends & Influence People” by Dale Carnegie.

That’s a simple premise and an easy idea to grasp or explain to someone else…

But fully exploring that topic takes more than a paragraph or short blog post.

When you know the topic you’re passionate about and you have great confidence in your expertise, brainstorm several “Big Ideas” for your book and choose the one that resonates most with you.

Stand Out From The Crowd

More books are being published today than at any other time.

The world doesn’t need another personal finance book encouraging readers to save 10% of their income as a “Big Idea”…

Nor do we need any more self-help books about the importance of positive thinking and being grateful.

How can you explain your Big Idea with a unique story, from a new angle, or for a different demographic of your audience?

Bob Burg, author of The Go-Giver, crafted a brilliant story to demonstrate the importance of focussing on doing good for other people – and created a unique book that explains his Big Idea in a powerful and memorable way.

Napoleon Hill used an interesting angle  in Outwitting The Devil to demonstrate the Big Idea of overcoming fear and procrastination.

Make sure that your material is different and better than other people writing in your field in at least three ways.

When you are doing your research, gather all the information that you will need to write your book so you can organize it into a logical structure before you begin writing.

Find The Lesson

Every ‘Big Idea’ has requires your audience to learn and understand some fundamental principles so they know WHY they are taking action.

For a book about purchasing real estate for young people, it’s important for them to learn WHY that particular investment strategy makes sense for the reader.

In my book Maximum Achievement, I explained that commitment to success in any area – health, finances, relationships – are never separate from each other.

For someone to achieve extraordinary wealth or energy or professional success, they must seek to make their entire life a masterpiece.

Write down a list of lessons that your readers must understand about your chosen topic, and pick the most powerful principle to introduce your topic.

Write The Action Plan

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For your readers to achieve the results they seek from your book, there are certain actions that they’ll need to take to become successful.

Sometimes this process is linear and very easy to map out – sometimes it’s not.

Try to come up with a step-by-step plan of “Milestones” that your readers must follow in order so they can achieve their goals.

For a weight-loss book, those “Milestones” might include things such as exercise, nutrition, sleep, stress management and changing habits.

Each one of THOSE milestones can be broken up into smaller steps – for example exercising for weight loss includes lifting weights, doing aerobics, stretching and having a good program to follow.

As you identify these “Milestones” and the small steps they solve, the outline to what you’ll teach your readers to do in your book begins to unfold.

Just as you’re following these steps to write a book, your readers need a step-by-step plan too.

Batch Out Your Work

Sitting down to write an 80,000 word book in one go is a monstrous task.

Rather, you should view your writing as small batches of milestones and achievements to make along the way.

You should start by planning out what content you’ll include in each chapter and section of your book – what you’ll teach, what you’ll advise your readers to do and what research you have to back your claims.

Next you can turn your attention to writing drafts of each chapter.

Set yourself a word goal to hit each day – and make sure you achieve that number no matter what.

Whether you write 300 or 3,000 words per day is not as important as the habit of continually making progress towards the completion of each of the steps to write a book.

Don’t Make It Hard On Yourself

Writer’s block is a very real challenge to deal with.

Some days you’ll find yourself stuck for ideas, angles or stories. Your creativity may be shut off – and that’s normal.

There are two ways to deal with this obstacle – first, you can try to muscle through.

Second, you can recognise that creativity is rarely linear and sometimes your thoughts come to you when you don’t try to force them.

When you find yourself stuck on a certain chapter, or battling to get thoughts from your mind in a logical manner…

Keep your momentum and continue writing – but turn your focus to another chapter or section of your book.

If you’re struggling to finish a chapter, start writing the introduction for your next section and come back later.

You may be experiencing mental fatigue by over-thinking a particular topic or concept – a problem which is easily solved by giving your brain a short break.

Think Hard About The Ending

Even if you’ve got a great conclusion to your book in mind, you’re going to be fairly fatigued by the time you get there.

You’re going to feel excited about finishing and releasing your book, and the temptation is to rush through the ending.

Your readers deserve closure and valuable insight at the end of their journey – so take your time here. You don’t want your reader’s last impression of your book to be a poor one.

If necessary, think up several different angles you can use to end your book, and seek advice from someone you trust to help you choose the best option.

Get Honest Feedback

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The way we think thoughts in our minds is very different from the way we process new information.

Sometimes you might have a great idea of a chapter, or a useful piece of information that you want to share with your readers, that makes sense in your own head but not on paper.

It’s very important to have someone read and review the way you present your ideas and action steps as you progress.

Take any feedback – positive or negative – as a lesson, rather than personal.

As you become more experienced with writing you’ll learn to self-edit and make your books more readable, but that takes experience and practice to master.

Write a Book People Will Buy

Exactly who are you writing this book for and why will your book appeal to them?

When you work through each of the steps to write a book,, consider the type of person who will buy it, and the number of those people that exist in the current market.

Make sure that your market is large enough. I only write books that I feel have at least one million potential book buyers.

In conclusion, the steps to write a book are simple to follow. The actual writing part is challenging and requires immense discipline and commitment.

Use this guide and follow these steps to write a book and you’ll find that your progress comes much easier and faster than if you sat down in front of a blank page.

Brian Tracy

Brian Tracy has accumulated over four decades of studying the success habits of successful people. He has then taken these practices to train groups, both individual and large corporations what is necessary to make personal success simple. Find out about Brian Tracy and his expertise here