Idea for a Book? My Quick Guide to Starting Out and Publishing

hand writing in a notebook

So, you have an idea for a book but you don’t know where to start. It is a competitive market but you do have choices – it’s just a case of trying to figure out which will work best for you. Self-publishing or publishing house? Literary agent or just you? Illustrations or not? Fear not, I have some insight for you which may help in your decision-making. Here is my quick guide to publishing…

Starting Out

You have your book idea so now it is time to develop it.

Plan – You cannot do enough planning when thinking about writing your book. Make notes, get your ideas clear and down on paper. Plan how your chapters will work, where any images may go, where images will be sourced etc. Then plan how you are going to work efficiently.

Brainstorm – Characters, plot, settings, scenery. Is your plot plausible? Research if you are having characters who play particular jobs i.e. Fireman, Police service, check that policies/shifts/jargon/equipment are all correct in your writing.

Market Research – Does a similar book already exist? Do you know your target audience/age groups? If so, speak to them about your idea, gain feedback and speak to experts in that field. Take all comments on board and use them to your advantage.

Competition – Who is your competition? Will this have a negative or positive impact on your book? What I mean by this is, if there is a big demand for books in that genre, the competition may help you but if the market is already highly covered and by more experienced/popular/well-known writers it could have a negative impact on your sales.


Once your initial planning has been completed you can begin to write your book… be prepared for this to be a long process. Write freely to start with and get all of your brainstorming into your book. Yes, you may make mistakes in the first run, you may have grammatical errors but all of these can be corrected at some point. You will most probably also note that some chapters/sections will be a little thin on content. Simply mark these to return to later and think about how you can bulk your story out or add additional information.

You may hit a few bumps along the road and you will probably think about quitting several times but if you can overcome these you will end up with the best version of your book by the end. Take regular breaks and walk away when you need to. There’s no point in writing when your head and heart aren’t in it.

Write, re-write, review your piece and have a fresh pair of eyes look over it. Your final copy may be very far from what you originally drafted but it will be worth it. Do not let constructive criticism dishearten you, take the comments and use them to improve your work.

Useful Tools

  • Grammarly
  • Purchase the correct books. Two which come highly recommended are: Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook and Children’s Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook. These come out every year and are complete guides to writing, planning, literary agents and publishers. This is your author bible.
  • Social media- Talk your book up before you publish. Gain a good following across the board and shout about what you are doing. These will potentially be your customers.
  • Blogging can help to improve your visibility on social media and will bring in more followers before your book is on sale.
  • If you want to self-publish look at Createspace and KDP on Amazon as options for your selling site. They provide all your printing and post and packaging needs.
  • Research illustrators if you are self-publishing. Fiverr provides a variety of options and illustrator styles. Please note that you won’t need to illustrate your book if you are going down the publishing house route.
  • Source professional, good quality images if self-publishing. Sites such as Shutterstock and istock offer a huge selection- do compare package prices, though.

Self-publish or Publishing House?


  • You have complete control of your book
  • You are the sole person in charge of advertising and marketing
  • Your results will depend on your own drive and commitment
  • Very quick and easy to do online
  • Immediate upload to your chosen site for sale- fees will apply
  • Choice of printing locally and selling via your own website
  • You have control of your own promotions
  • You may find it difficult to get your book into shops

Publishing House:

  • Experts in their fields
  • They offer professional editing
  • Expert eyes
  • Knowledgeable
  • They will take a cut of your profits
  • They provide full marketing and advertising support
  • You may need to find a suitable literary agent first- usually in the case of children’s books
  • This will be a longer time scale to get your book out on sale
  • Your book out in high street stores

Whatever you choose to do make sure it is the best option to suit you and the time you have to commit to it all. If you are happy to self-publish and promote yourself every day via social media then why not give it a go? If you are unsure of how to use social media platforms, if you don’t have the time to be marketing your book or balancing your workload with your home life, look into publishing houses and agents for professional advice and support.

If you have an idea why not go for it?

‘If there’s a book you want to read but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.’

Toni Morris


Emma Reed

Author of ‘Your Teething Baby, from one parent to another’

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