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13 Things Authors Want You to Know About Writing a Book


At this year’s Her Conference in New York City, four authors shared the tricks of the trade and offered advice to aspiring novelists about what it's really like to write a book, find an agent, sign a book deal and get published. If you've always dreamt of writing a novel but don't know where to start, read on to get the inspiration you need to craft the next bestseller. After all, the rest is still unwritten!

On getting inspired:

1. "If you love books and you read books carefully, you realize all that goes into it.” – Benjamin Rachlin, author of Ghost of the Innocent Man: A True Story of Trial and Redemption

2. “Live a little bit and notice what’s unnoticed. Go people-watching.” – Tia Williams, author of The Perfect Find and Copy Director at Bumble and bumble

On putting pen to paper:

3. “Once you’ve obsessed over the idea, set a deadline and stick to it.” – Hannah Orenstein, author of Playing with Matches and Assistant Features Editor at Seventeen.com

4. "You need to plot it out from beginning to end. Don't leave out any detail in your story, and know exactly what's coming next at every moment.” – Julie Pennell, author of The Young Wives Club

5. "Use a beat sheet, which is an outline or template to work from. You can find them online for just about every genre."— Tia Williams

What to do after you've finished your book:

6. “For fiction, you sell a manuscript. For nonfiction, you sell a book proposal."— Benjamin Rachlin

7. "Join Facebook groups for writers, and use the websites Manuscript Wishlist and Literary Market Place."— Hannah Orenstein

8. “While waiting to hear from agents, write something else. Never stop writing.” — Tia Williams

On maintaining connections:

9. "Following up and personal relationships are vital." – Benjamin Rachlin

10. "You can't overstate the importance of making real bonds with people in the industry."— Tia Williams

Advice on not getting discouraged:

11. "Nobody's first draft is perfect. Keep writing."— Julie Pennell

12. “So many eyes will see your writing—including people that don’t care about you. That’s why it’s so important to really believe in your work.” – Tia Williams

13. "After reading my first draft, a classmate said, 'Honestly, I thought you were kinda basic, but this is actually really good.' Don't underestimate basic girls."— Hannah Orenstein

This year's Her Conference mantra, "Now is the new later," aligns perfectly with each author's advice to simply start writing. Write when you're inspired and when you're uninspired. Get to know your characters and the world you're creating. There's no time like the here and now to tell your story, so pick up a pen, crack open that notebook (or Word doc) and let the writing (and rewriting) begin.

Check out #HerConference on Twitter and Instagram to explore more highlights from the event!  

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