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  • Writer's pictureJ.B. Manas

5 Crucial Ingredients of Writing a Book

5 Ingredients of Writing a Book

What does it take to write a book? I get asked this a lot by my non-writer friends. Some of them are considering writing a book themselves and some are just curious.

My answer is always the same. Physically writing the book (in itself a major feat) is only one-fifth of writing a book.

The full recipe of writing a book contains 5 ingredients in equal parts, as follows:

  1. Planning - including story development, outlining, theme refinement, character creation, publishing decisions, and more. This also may mean a lot of reading (including reading about the craft).

  2. Research - including specialized skills, locations, scientific or historical facts, and more. Your research can be conducted via expert interviews, browser searches, YouTube, virtual tours, in-person visits, and, of course, books.

  3. Writing - I'll quote Harlan Coben here once again: "Only writing is writing."

  4. Rewriting - This includes editing (multiple rounds), fact-checking, killing your darlings (advice from William Faulkner), removing anything that sounds like writing (advice from Elmore Leonard), and cutting out the parts people tend to skip (more advice from Elmore Leonard). Tip: Read your content out loud for realistic dialogue and smoother narrative.

  5. Marketing - This takes way more effort than people think and includes branding, promotion, advertising, and soliciting reviews and testimonials. I usually include the logline, tag line, and book summary blurb here, as it requires a different mindset from writing the book. Here you're trying to get people to buy it. I also tend to do this BEFORE writing the book, so I know if I have something solid.

I think if you go in expecting that all these areas are part of the process, it's easier to embrace all parts of the journey. Of course, If some areas are more of a challenge (let's say you're not big on marketing), try to get help from someone with expertise in those areas. Most authors have editors and rely on marketing and publicity assistance and are avid readers of the craft.

Bottom Line: You can spend as little or as much as you want, but either way you have to be aware of these five ingredients and learn what you can about them. Then you'll be equipped for success!

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