5 Must-Know Rules for Writing Your First Book

5 Must Know Rules for Writing Your First BookBy CJ Childress

While on your way to total #BOSSBABE dominance a little itch strikes you…

You’ve caught on to the idea that being an author can boost your profile to uber it girl status. Not just because every book that one sells = moolah in their pocket, but for the very fact that those that write books are admitted entry into an elite sorority. A girls’ club that entitles you to more professional opportunities. More speaking engagements. More leading of workshops. More clients. More authority.

And let’s keep it real, we live in a world where MORE is apart of the game. MORE is what we want as we build our Boss Babe careers.

And even when we’ve made it, we will then want more down time, more balance, more security.


I am sure you’re now saying, “Yeah yeah yeah, the hell with all of that philosophy. How do I write my first book?”

That’s fair, because that is what you came here for. If you’re up for the gorgeous challenge, then here goes:

1. Zone in on a SPECIFIC angle

This is super crucial. Truly step numero uno for a reason. Books are about problem-solving.

No matter if you’re writing fact or fiction. Stories are told through the lens of how can a reader get what they want.

The more narrow the focus, the grander the story.

Let’s look at three examples:

A. I once had a ghostwriting client tell me that she wanted to publish her autobiography because she’s led such a fast and crazy life (she was only in her mid-twenties). She also wanted to add a self-help component to the book for teen girls that have been sexually assaulted. She THEN desired to also include fashion tips for women that are fashionably challenged.

I had to tell her, whoa-

That’s three different audiences. Your book will be lost in the marketplace because you are trying to talk to too many women at once.

After some serious probing and five coffee dates later, we came to the resolve that her best chances of building a platform and becoming a successful debut author was in our writing her memoir (which is different from an autobiography) that covered her teen years, beginning with an unwanted pregnancy at 17 and ending when she turned 21 and became a Christian.

And believe me, it turned into being an action-packed story. It read like a novel. It had a focus, a scope.

She’s now a teen empowerment motivational speaker.

B. You are a Graphic Designer by trade but have transitioned into being a Web Designer. But a small pocket of your income does still come from providing graphic design work to clients in the IT industry.

You also have a mighty little blog that’s growing in readership that focuses on providing web design tips to creative entrepreneurs who happen to be your target audience for your web design business.

After much thought, you think that you could tap into the book market by writing a book on how to design websites from start to finish.

While writing a book about designing websites from start to finish is a cool beans idea, but its too lazy of an idea. To go real #bossbabes on them, write a book about how graphic designers can design a website using Squarespace (“because WordPress sucks” — these are your words, not mine).

That way you are tapping into both of your super powers as a trained graphic designer and as an emerging web designer. And believe me, there are enough hungry graphic designers out there who don’t have a clue about web design. They would LOVE to be given a web designing bible on how to create them using Squarespace, the new cool kid on the web development block.

Heck, you may even be able to then coach other graphic designers on how to transition into becoming web designers too after publishing your book: WordPress is for Suckas: The Step By Step Guide To Creating a Client Magnet Website Using Squarespace For Your Graphic Design Business. 

C. The title on your business card says FREELANCE COPYWRITER. You primarily write long boring copy for insurance companies and the funeral homes who pay them. From time to time you also write copy for mobile home manufacturers just to jazz things up in your copywriting life.

However, you’re super talented at writing video scripts for your clients. While only about 20 percent of your income comes from writing scripts for your clients, it’s the one area that makes you feel most ALIVE as a writer. It’s where you feel like a natural-born storyteller. Here’s a solution: Write a book on how to write effective video scripts to market your business.

You can go deep with this. Take your reader from idea mapping, to audience/market research, to the mechanics of writing, to the psychology of selling (you’re a copywriter; you’re naturally a damn good saleswoman).

WHAMMO! All of those examples take your idea for a book and give it a specific ANGLE.

2. Know your AUDIENCE

I am not going to just say “duh.”

I could, of course, but that’s not very #bossbabe like. We help other brains and beauties. We’re sisters.

But I will say that when you set out to write your first book, you have got to nail down your audience from the beautiful beginning.

Intimately know who are these people that you will be asking to spend $19.95 on your words.

Take the above example about the graphic designer-turned-web designer. She has her feet in two worlds. She could easily write a book about web design in general. But once again, that’s lazy. She can totally ROCK her niche and write for those graphic designing whiz-kids. She knows them backward and forward. Speaks their language. There is no guesswork to be done on her part. They all look cool in Brooklyn together.

If you want to write a romance novella, whom will your novella speak to most?

Will it be city girls that are single with impressive careers? Wait, that’s what Sex In The City was about (but you can write a better version, I just know it). 

Will it be women of color who grew up in the inner city? Urban romance fiction is HOT right now! 

Will it be closeted dominatrixes who bought into the erotic romance craze early on? E.L. James knew this from the moment she began book blogging 50 Shades of Grey.  

I am making this rule number two because it will help make the writing process so much more organized, clear, and less draining.

Mentally nail down your reader, jot down who she is, and write every sentence with her in mind.

3. Create a THEME for each chapter

Trust me: you will want to breeze through your book as much as possible.

I don’t mean write quickly or rush through it. I mean you will want to make the writing process as fluid and organized as you humanly can. Many Boss Babes write themes for each chapter before they even write a word of story. This works for fiction and nonfiction. Imagine themes for each chapter that feel logical. If you are writing a book about how to launch a successful career as a fashion stylist then break…it…down:

Chapter One:
Why a fashionista should become a fashion stylist

Chapter Two:
Why you personally made the decision to become a fashion stylist

Chapter Three:
How you got your start as a fashion stylist

Chapter Four:
A list of the ins and outs of the industry

Chapter Five:
Mistakes you made when you started out and how others can avoid making them

Chapter Six:
How to ensure client satisfaction

Chapter Seven:
How to put yourself out there and build your business

Chapter Eight
Behind The Scenes!
Share a day or week in the life of being an in-demand fashion stylist

Chapter Nine
Little-known resources that every ambitious fashion stylist should have at her fingertips

Chapter Ten
Last Words!
Final thoughts on being a fashion stylist and how to truly succeed

See: Easy, Peasy.

Creating and following a chapter theme will make writing your book a cinch and not incredibly time-consuming.

4. ANNOUNCE your book to the world

There’s no motivation better than accountability. But more than anything, announcing to the world that you’re writing a book incites intrigue within your tribe, your clients, your potential customers.

Writing a book takes balls. Mainly because it doesn’t necessarily guarantee to yield you anything in return. There are scores of books on Amazon that no one has ever bought or that receive bad press and sales flatline. It’s an enormous risk.

However, if you get the PR machine moving early for your book then you can build up interest quickly. There are some authors like the founder of the digital selling platform Gumroad, Nathan Barry, who made $39,000 before he even wrote his first book because of pre-sale orders.

He simply had an idea and put it out there in the world. He promised to solve a problem and people in his niche (web development) couldn’t wait to get the solution.

To date, he’s made over $355K from selling his books online, primarily via racking up pre-sales.

He singlehandedly made a name for himself as a leader in his field just by announcing to the world that he’s writing a book.

I can personally back up Nathan’s model for success. I didn’t have a $39K payday for my first book, Woman Steps In Poetry and Prose, but it was pretty amazing to watch sales climb the day it was released and reach the top ten in the Women’s Poetry category on Amazon.

I really truly believe that was because I put the buzz out there early. You’re a BossBabe; do this too.

5. Write for an hour a DAY

Let’s assume you are committed to writing your first book in 3 short months and that you can average 500 words per hour writing 5 days per week.

500 words X 5 = 2,500 words per week
2,500 words X 4 = 10,000 words per month
10,000 words X 3 = 30,000 words in 90 days

A 30,000-word book is a very impressive word count for a how-to book, self-help book, or novella.

That’s all it takes to go next level as a #bossbabe.

Be an author and continue to build your beautiful brand, word by word.

CJ Childress is a four-time author. She writes romance fiction and memoir. In 2011 she launched her business as a freelance Ghost Writer and Copy Editor. Most recently, she has begun providing writing coaching services to women that desire to write their first book. You can find her hanging out on Twitter @cjjohnsonwrites or Instagram.com/iamcjchildress


4 Replies to “5 Must-Know Rules for Writing Your First Book”

  1. There truly is a lot of competition for your dollar! Even white women are writing in the plantation/enslaved genre! I ask you, and them; what do white women know about slavery? Well, they showed me, after I spent several dollars to find out! But, I learned from it, and now I write my own family history, some parts fact and other parts fiction. I’m learning.
    Toni Mariani

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