Nonfiction Book Writing, Self Publishing, & Marketing Coach

Ten Tips To Get Started Writing a Book

So many book coaching requests come to me for help writing a book. Especially getting started. You are far more likely to successfully write, publish, and sell your book if you follow these tips before you write a single chapter.

1. Write your print or eBook’s working title.

It helps you focus and answer the readers’ number one question about the topic. Some non-fiction needs subtitles as well. The subtitle is your book’s promise. It’s better to be clear than clever, but the ultimate winning combination is clear and clever. Which titles grab you? “Passion At Any Age: Twelve Ways to Unleash It,” “Self-Promotion for the Creative Person.” or “Quadruple your Book’s Online Sales in Less Than Five Months.” Think about how you will grab your readers’ attention.

2. Write your book’s thesis.

A thesis is a sentence or so stating the audience’s main problem/challenge and how your book will solve it. Knowing the thesis before you write the book keeps you on track so you write focused, compelling copy that is easy to read. All chapters should support your book’s thesis. For one client’s passion book, perhaps this thesis will work. From the title, “Passion at Any Age,” comes the thesis, “Each of you has passion and you can unleash it through these twelve steps.” A best title often includes your thesis. For instance, “Write your eBook or Other Short Book Fast!

3. Test your book’s significance.

While most writers fear their book won’t be good enough to sell, your book is significant if it has these elements:

  • It presents useful information.
  • It has the potential to positively affect people’s lives.
  • It’s lively, humorous.
  • It helps answer important reader questions.
  • It creates a deeper understanding of human nature.

If your book has only two elements, it will be worth writing. With three or more, it’s a potential best seller. Make your book a priority so you can express your mission helping others to a better life, and at the same time make a consistent lifelong income.

4. Pinpoint your primary audience.

When you give your book an angle, it sells much better. No, not everyone will want to read your book. When you write for one audience at a time, each story, tip, or how to packs in so much more power. General writing is all right if you are already famous, but choose and post your audience’s picture and profile right in front of you as you write. Now, each chapter will be focused, each word and paragraph will be organized and compelling. This idea transfers well to websites and ecommerce too. It’s far easier to market a book to a primary audience than to a general one.

Create an audience profile…

  • How old are your prospective readers?
  • Male? Female?
  • Are they interested in personal growth, science fiction, mystery, how-to books?
  • What challenges do they face?
  • Are they business people?
  • What magazines and websites do they surf?
  • Are they internet savvy?
  • What causes do they support?
  • Will they be willing to spend $15-$30 on your book?
  • Where will they go to buy it?

Think internet rather than a book store. And now with the newest technology think eBooks on Kindle. Kindle sales are much higher than print ones on Amazon.

5. Know your book’s 30-60 second “tell and sell” before you write it.

Like a billboard, this 2-3 sentence blurb will be so useful to you when you meet people and have only a few minutes to talk about your book. Like an elevator speech, you need to give your potential readers a reason to buy in a few sound bites. It’s the hook, not the book.

First, write down your title. Second, write down your primary audience. Third, list your book’s top three benefits. Last, compare your book with a famous author in your field. “Passion at Any Age” is the “Artists Way” for seniors.

Practice this short statement. Ask your associates for feedback. Which benefits impressed them? What do they remember most from it? Be willing to edit this piece up to 10 times.

6. Write down your publishing goals for this book.

Which suits your more–self publishing or a traditional publisher? Think about Print on Demand and whether these companies can deliver you a fair deal. Think about writing an eBook first or at the same time as your print book. You need far fewer resources and time to sell an eBook. Remember the saying, “Do what you do best, and hire the rest.” Think about using a book coach to shorten your journey and save you a lot of expensive mistakes.”

7. Organize your book files.

We waste over 150 hours a year looking for mislaid information. To get easy and fast book files retrieval:

First, create a master folder with your book’s title. Inside, keep a separate file for each chapter. Name each chapter to make sense later. Within those, add your different notes, research or resources. Title and date each file easily to find it later. For instance, Chapter One. Why Write a Book? -8-20-11. You will know what chapter version is the latest with new editing.

This system allows you to manage those multiple projects easily and compares to filing important hard files alphabetically and vertically.

You will now stop wasting time and money because unfinished projects that don’t get shared, don’t make you money and get your unique word out to your awaiting audience.

8. Write down your chapter’s format.

Readers expect a clear map to guide them. They like consistency. In non-fiction, each chapter should be approximately the same length and have the same sections. To make your chapters sparkle, use stories, case studies, anecdotes, headings, photos, maps, graphs, exercises, tips. Readers like easy-to-read side bars in boxes. From many years of coaching most emerging authors want to know what’s important to include and what’s not. When they find out–their book will be magical and hook their readers to the end. Now they will have a 24/7 sales team to help them make their book profitable.

9. Write the back cover or website sales material before you write your book.

This “outline” helps give your book direction and helps you focus only on what’s important to your thesis or theme.

Include what sells:

  • reader and famous people’s testimonials
  • a benefit-driven headline to hook the reader to open the book and read the table of contents
  • and bulleted benefits

Since your readers want benefits and other reasons to buy, place your bio and picture on the inside of the back cover. Later, you can recreate this back cover piece into a longer sales letter for your web site. Always think marketing as you write your book.

10. Mock up a front cover in your book’s early stages.

Keep it by your computer to inspire you. To sell your books, your cover and title have around four-ten seconds to sell your reader. Covers are the number one hot selling point that sells a book–that means 20% more sales. Browse the bookstores and copy a few ideas to get you started. Choose colors that suit your audience. Blue and red work for business books. Aqua, yellow, and reds work for personal growth books.

Writing a book is so much easier when you approach it in small bites. Knowing these ten parts help you ask and answer the specific questions and challenges your audience wants solutions for.

Read the book that Judy Cullins published and that started her book coaching business

Judy Cullins

Judy Cullins

Book Coach at
Book Coach Judy Cullins, author of 38 books including “Write your eBook or Other Short Book-Fast!”, solves the tough problems for top business people writing a book. She determines their unmet needs of having enough time, positive mindset and tried and true writing skills that create a book their ideal audience will love.
Judy Cullins
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  • Kay

    These tips are so good and would have smoothed the way for me a couple of years ago. They sound simple, and they are, but for a newbie the steps help answer a lot of questions you need to know. I wrote my first novel….and didn't have a clue the genre or who my audience was. Looking forward to getting more nuggets of wisdom.

  • Hi Kay, Glad you liked and recognized the value of these tips! If you want more of my gems each week, but sure to subscribe to my site at

  • Excellent advice – Your tips, especially the book jacket write-up, Is getting my writing done on my first book. Writing the book jacket, while keeping your other tips in mind, is helping me select what I should exclude and what is significant enough to include
    Thank you.

  • Wonderful and just what I needed today. Thanks Judy!

  • Linda Conaboy

    Do you have advice about how to go about research? Your ten tips to get started writing a book are wonderful and now I'm wondering about the research part of book writing. I will need to travel in order to do research for my still-in-my-mind historical fiction book. Authors like Michael Shaara are so inspring; he must have spent days, hours, months, years researching the civil war.
    Thanks in advance.

  • Linda, Not sure of your topic's need for research. REmember, you can get alot done on internet and phone. So take advantage of these easier ways before you travel alot. I advise writing a list of questions you want answers for. This is all in my ch 2 of my book at "resources" link at my site.
    Only 15.95 and a gem for fiction and non-fiction writers.

  • Ajay, I just found your comment. Glad my advice helps you. You write your jacket like you would a websie sales letter–featuring benefits mostly with some great testimonials! Do you have that covered?

  • Great tips thank you Judy – I’m embarking on my first book, and this has been a great help :)I particulalrly love the tip about organising the files on the computer – I am hopeless at this and as a result have stuff all over the place, but this will really help me get to grips with things.

  • Hi Sue,

    So glad you got value from this report. when you know the business side of your book first, you’ll create far more sales at the end. Organizing ourselves helps us write fast and finish fast. I create a folder for each client to keep track of their book, promotional info. Make sure you do one for your book.

    I wonder what is your topic you write on?

  • Thanks Judy,
    I’m writing a book for female entrepreners in the first 2 years of business, aimed at helping them develop a winning mindset and confidence to keep going through the tough times 🙂

  • Sue, You book topic is so needed today in this slow economy. I taught entrepreneurship in my seminar business before I became a book coach.

    One way to find out your audience’s needs is to just ask them what their challenges are in this niche. Email a group and see what they say. Then, you can target your material to give them what they want.
    (This is all in ch 3 of my write your e ebook on my home page)

    And, you’ll get my free audio on mindset and overcomng fear when you subscribe at

  • Rebecca Gray

    Trying to get started on writing a book really need some advice on how to get started?

  • Rebecca, if you want specifics – how to do all the tips above, I do have an eBook “Write your eBook or Other Short Book Fast” at this link

    It’s a 90 page book and full of exact steps for all. What is your business and book book topic? That’s the best combo to be successful.

    Ask yourself what concerns does my audience have and then give them answers for those. This info is in ch 2 of my book.

  • Tom Youngholm

    Judy came across this article. So good to see you are still doing your passion. Things didn’t work in SD and just moved to NH and finishing my third book. Hope to have it done in a couple of months. Lets keep in touch. And thanks for your above reminders!
    Tom Youngholm
    Author of the Celestial Bar
    In the Shadow of the Sphere

  • judycullins

    Hi Tom, I’m so glad to hear from you. I have both your books on my shelf.. I’m now coaching in fiction too. I have a Q and A format that allows the book to trip off one’s heart and mind. Wonder how you are marketing the older publications?

    Glad you’re writing another book-your last 2 were so so good!

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