What I Wish I Knew Before Writing a Book

Are you a writer thinking about writing your first book? Without previous publishing experience, first-time authors can feel overwhelmed by the unknowns that accompany the publishing process. It’s easy to focus solely on what we know: our message and how to weave it into a compelling story. But, there’s more to the process of publishing a book than simply writing it. 

We asked our hope*writers members what they wish they knew before writing their first book, and here’s what they told us.

On Writing

Hope*writer Kevin King shared that he could have saved himself years of work if he had an established critique group while drafting his book. When he did find a good critique group, the feedback from other writers helped lead to significant edits that strengthened his work. 

Other members spoke about trusting the writing process. Sarah Sambles found greater freedom when she realized she doesn’t have to follow anyone else's writing rhythms. She found her own pace that honored her current season of life. 

Similarly, member Jolene Fellhauer was relieved to discover she doesn’t have to be a plotter to write a novel as a fiction writer. There isn’t one “right” way to write. Experiment until you find your writing style, whether that means plotting the entire story before writing or flying by the seat of your pants.


On Publishing

Sondra Retzlaff told us that she was unaware of how long the publishing process takes. Writers need to continue working behind the scenes while waiting for editing guidance, revisions, and final proofs from their publishers. She encourages writers to develop hard work, dedication, and patience.

During the long process of publishing, you may have lots of questions for your publisher. Don’t be afraid to ask them, says one hope*writer. If this member had to do it all over again, she says she wouldn't be afraid to ask her publicist or marketing person all the questions — even the ones that seem dumb at the time. 

On Marketing

Hope*writers authors offered compelling advice for the marketing challenges they faced as newbies. Multi-book author Jennifer Dukes Lee says, “I would have started thinking about my launch and my marketing early, like while I was writing the actual book.”

Myquillyn Smith agrees and takes it one step further by saying she would consider marketing and launch ideas while writing the book proposal — well before she started writing the actual book.

Marketing falls on the author, says hope*writer Rachel Groll, even when you’re traditionally published. Many published hope*writers agree, including one member who suggests authors plan ahead for all of the writing required for marketing and publicity purposes. 

A writer’s work isn’t done when their book is published. In many ways, the journey of publishing has just begun.


At hope*writers, we help writers of all stages balance the art of writing with the business of publishing. If you’re thinking of writing a book, click here for our free guide, 10 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Writing a Book.


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