Many people feel like they want to write a book. The idea of being an author is appealing. If you want to actually make and sell a book, the first step to getting your book written is to create a specific definition of the book you want to create.

In what category or genre will it be classified? What is the length of your book? How large will a printed copy be?

I’ve followed a lot of successful authors and also gone through several coaching programs for creating books that sell. The one common step that starts the journey of creating a book is to do market research so what you create is found and valued by its future audience.


If you are sharing knowledge, you’re likely considering writing a non-fiction book. That isn’t true in every case. A history buff, may find great success writing a fiction story that fits into the time and place that they’ve studied. You may also have a favorite fiction type that you enjoy. Your familiarity with a specific sub-genre may help you create a work that fits into book stores beside those books by other authors that you have enjoyed.

If you aren’t sure, take a moment and collect a list of books that are sort of like the book you will be proud to have written. If you have a large collection of books, pull a few from your shelves and keep 2-3 copies for style reference and inspiration. Each of these books were once a dream of their author.

Take down the details. Write a list of notes about the book. Get a ruler out, or go into the Amazon pages for the books that you’re using to model the book you plan to write. After the main book descriptions, you will get to a list of Product Details. List each books page count and dimensions:

  • Paperback: 561 pages
  • Package Dimensions: 6.9 x 4.1 x 1.9 inches

Do this for each of your 2-3 model books. They don’t worry if they aren’t all the same. It is the process of examining a few published works that are close to what you want to build, that helps you get specific about the product you want to build.

I intentionally emphasized the word product because this is the time you should be imagining your completed book. Visualize a person in your audience picking up a copy from a bookstore shelf. See them clicking it on their Kindle. Imagine them lounging on a beach, under and umbrella, on vacation, wearing a hat and sunglasses, completing the picture with your book in their hands.

If one of the books is closest to the size and shape of how you want yours to be, put a star beside that one on your notes.

Other Product Details

Now look over the books more closely. Do they have a trendy cover? Is there a photo in the design or just typography? Do you have a color in mind that you want your book to be? It doesn’t have to be only one color, but think about main impression you want it to make. Remember to consider if you want it to blend in, or stand out. A well-designed book cover can both appear to belong to other books in that genre, while still standing out.

The back cover is next. Is there a summary of the book? You’ll be writing a similar summary for yours. It is much easier to use these as an example so you aren’t staring at a blank page when it is time to describe your book.

It would also be a great benefit to your writing the main work, to have your book’s description already written. It will help keep you focused. Your characters and plot may take unexpected turns through the writing process. It is OK to go back and revise this book summary later.

Does the author have a bio and a photo on the back? Start gathering these things too.

This blog is focused on supporting independent, self-publishing authors. When approaching traditional publishers, authors would to write book proposals. The act of creating a book proposal is another valuable way you can work out the preliminary details of your upcoming book. Remove as much ambiguity about the product as you can. Then, you will be free to concentrate on writing content that fits and appeals to your audience.


We’re nearly done with the examination of books that will help you decide which book to write. If your book is fiction, the chapter structure may not be a big deal in this phase. It might be valuable to note how many chapters the book contains and how long the chapters are.

If you are writing a non-fiction book, looking over the table of contents may be extremely helpful. These can help you plan how you will organize your information and teaching your book will present.

Look over the index and bibliography too. To have credibility with readers, many non-fiction books need social or scientific proof for support. Other books may be able to rely on your own expertise. These will be handy materials throughout the entire writing process.


The blank page is formidable. The more experience and expectations you have for your work, the easier it is for perfectionism to become an obstacle.

The more structure you have, the easier it is to move your project forward. Think of it like mad libs. For each blank, you know type of information that will complete it.

Keep reminding yourself that these model books were also written by humans like you. The process is do-able. If you make steady progress, you will get your book done. A good outline of the content will help you stay organized and complete the sections more quickly.

There are sources for help at this stage. Professional editors specialize can help you with some of these decisions. An editor can partner with you to refine the structure of your book before you write it. This can be an efficient way to make sure your book comes out strong.

Later, you will hire an editor or proofreader for the review of your completed manuscript. This is a very different skillset from the structural edit.

Once your manuscript is written and proofed, you will work with a layout designer to prepare the interior content for printed copy of your book. You may get a different designer for the cover of your book. We will cover these steps in later articles. For now, concentrate on defining the book you plan to make.

>> I'd like to know what books you'd choose to model the book that you want to write. Please share your model books in the comments below.