Preparing to write a book in 2024: 6 essential strategies

Many of you are about to make a resolution to write a book next year.

And like all people who make New Year’s resolutions, most of you will fail.

It takes more than the will to write a book to be successful (just as it takes more than the will to lose weight, exercise more, be nicer to people, spend more time with your family, or whatever else is on your list of resolutions).

If you want to succeed with writing a book in 2024, do these six things:

1 Set aside time

Unless you’ve set up a regular time to work on your book (say, every weekday morning at 6am, or every Saturday from 8 to 12, or every time you get on an airplane), you will not actually work on it. Oh, you may do some of the fun parts, like writing a page or two, but working on a book takes applied effort over months toward a defined goal. So do it. Right now, write down the time you will set aside for the book, and block it off in your schedule.

2 Focus your idea

What is your book about?

No, I don’t mean some vague thing like “my book is about marketing” or “my book is about innovation.”

I mean, specifically:

  • Who is the audience?
  • What is the problem they have that you will solve?
  • How will you solve their problem?
  • What will make your book different from other books on the topic?

Until you can answer those four questions, you don’t have a book, you just have a vague yearning to write something.

So spend some time, this week, on deciding the answers to those questions. It might help you to brainstorm with somebody you trust.

3 Develop a research plan

Research is what will make your book more than just a recitation of your opinions. You need primary research to make your book believable and interesting.

There are two basic ways to do that: with interviews and with data. (You can, of course, use both).

If you’re going to do interviews, who will you talk to? Who will let you tell their story? Make a list, right now. That’s a pretty good to-do list for your work on the book in 2024.

If you’re going to use data, where will you get it? For example, if you’re going to do surveys, what questions will you ask and what group will you survey? If the data is from somewhere else, how will you get access to it, and how will you analyze it?

Get to work on that, right now.

4 Write something

I usually tell people working on a book to start with research, not writing.

But writing is also a good way to get yourself started.

Write the flap copy for the book.

Write the beginning of chapter 1.

Write an impassioned manifesto.

If you write something you care about, you’ll become excited. And you’re going to need that enthusiasm to get past the inertia and do the real work of writing the book.

5 Pick a publishing model

Do you want a traditional publisher? Then you’ll need to start assembling a proposal including a marketing plan. And you’ll need to recognize that your book is coming out in 2025, not next year.

Do you think a hybrid publisher is right for your? Time to get realistic about the costs — you’ll need to have funds set aside to retain the publisher.

Will you self-publish? Then you need to come to grips with the lower impact such a book will have, and determine if it’s actually worth the effort.

6 Talk to your boss

If you’re self-employed, you can skip this step (unless you like talking to yourself).

But if you work for a company, they’re eventually going to need to know about your book.

If they’re going to claim to own the rights to the IP you write while you work there, best to find that out now.

If they’re going to support you but have questions, this is the time to try to answer them.

If the book will actually help the business, you’ll want to start planning that.

Tell us what you’re working on

One way to succeed with a resolution is to share it with others, for accountability.

So why not share your book plan with us in the comments on this post?

If you’re shy, you don’t have to use your real name.

And you don’t have to give away your whole idea (just tell us, for example, that you’re writing a book about “how AI will transform innovation” or “what investors should be most worried about in the age of global warming”).

I look forward to reading what you’re working on — and how your preparations helped get you started.

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