145: How Do I Know How to Start My Book?

Azul Answers Questions From Listeners

“It doesn’t really matter if you have a good book idea if it doesn’t get written.” – Azul Terronez

When it comes to writing a book, one of the most important things you need is clarity.

Maybe you have several ideas, but you don’t know which one to choose first. Perhaps you’re not sure how to start — and, if you already have, how to finish.

Either way, here’s the brutal truth: A good book idea doesn’t really matter if it never gets fully written. A bad book idea that’s published is way better than a great idea that just sits inside your head, in a notebook, or on your hard drive.

According to an article in the New York Times, 81 percent of Americans say they have a book inside of them, but only 3 percent ever write it – and of that 3 percent, only 30 percent actually publish.

So we’re talking about a fraction of a percent that is going to see their book in the world — and while they might have good intentions, they get stuck.

My partner, Steve Vannoy, and I have created a method called “The Prism Pathway to Publishing,” and in this episode of “Authors Who Lead,” we asked listeners like you for their greatest challenges when they go to write a book — in an effort to pinpoint what we can do to help get the book you want to write actually written.

Question #1: “Choosing From Multiple Book Ideas: Which One Should I Write First?”

It may seem wise to pick the most practical book first. But writing a single book is hard and planning for writing is really difficult, as well. So, pick the book that gets you most excited.


Just imagine: There is only one book you can write, and you aren’t getting another chance to do it. Which one would you choose?

After you decide, keep in mind that writer’s block is inevitable — and normal, especially when you lack clarity in your book idea. One of the common mistakes that authors make is trying to combine books, or overfill books with ideas and topics. This makes it difficult for readers to understand what you’re trying to tell them.

Question #2: “How Do I Self-Publish?”

Good news: Amazon has a publishing program called KDP for print-on-demand e-books, Kindle and paperback books. It allows you to upload your file and your cover, and when someone orders your book, Amazon prints a single copy and ships it for you.

You don’t have to shell out a ton of money for an inventory of books that will just sit in your garage until you sell them. 

Question #3: “What Language Should I Be Writing My Book?”

Write in the language that feels most comfortable — and think about your target audience first.

If you want to impact the Spanish-speaking community, start with the Spanish version, and vice versa if you’d rather attract an English-speaking audience. If you are a non-native English speaker, don’t worry. That’s where a great editor, or a translator, comes in.

Question #4: “How Do I Structure My Book If I Want to Be Received in a Professional Way?”

First, try not to get overwhelmed by what it takes to write the book. There are a lot of moving parts, but at the heart of your book is the manuscript — which is the most important.

Once you feel solid with your book, shift your attention to these areas of focus:


There are both copy and line editors, and their job is to look at structure, tone, grammar, and consistency. Essentially, they want to make your manuscript the absolute best it can be before it moves to a proofreader.

Substantive or developmental editors will make sure the book flows and has a cohesive message. They point out any missing elements and make sure your overall message has a theme.

Note, each role comes at a different price — and you will be expected to be involved in the process.

Book cover and interior design

The cover is not only your first impression, but it also signals to the reader the genre of your book. So, be careful. If you design the cover just because it looks pretty, and it doesn’t match the genre, your readers could be disappointed.

Remember, your book needs to be formatted for printing, too — where every other page is a different format and takes into account the center fold. The indents will change, as well.

Question #5: “How Do I Find My Voice in Writing?”

Writing is only about this moment. How people respond to it is up to them. Don’t worry too much about what they think.

If you’re struggling to find your authentic voice, try to write a book like you’re writing to a friend. Focus on the one in your mind, not every person who could potentially read your book.

There is no better time to start writing than now. Just remember:

  1. When choosing between multiple book ideas, try to get out of your head. Pick the one that makes you feel most energized.
  2. When choosing which language to use in your book, consider your target audience.
  3. To make your book look professional, invest in great editors and pay attention to the book cover design and interior.
  4. If you’re struggling to find your authentic voice, have a friend or a specific person in mind as your reader.

What was your biggest takeaway from the episode? And in the comments, share the biggest challenge that has held you back from writing your book.

That’s all for this week. If you have a message inside of you that needs to be written, today is the day to start. Don’t delay — your next big step is just a few words away.


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