Five questions to ask before starting your book

Below is a list of five question you need to ask yourself before starting your book.


Because publishing and marketing a book is an all-consuming process. So, it’s worth getting ahead and doing some preparation early on in the process.

Each of the five questions is followed by a series of tips that will help get you thinking.  As with any project, writing a book depends on good planning and preparation. So thinking through these issues could be the difference between success and failure.

Use these questions as a checklist and go through each one in turn. It may only take a few minutes, but those few minutes could make a big difference to your finished book.

Here are the five questions you need to consider before starting your book.


1: Do you have the money?

  • Set your book budget based on what you are able to invest in it. This will stop you getting carried away and over-spending. It will also mean you don't have to stop work part-way through due to lack of funds. So, work out your funds before you start writing your book.
  • Think about the kind of book you want to write. What resources or help will you need to get it done i.e. editing, coaching/mentoring, technical work. Get some quotes and find out what everything costs before you begin.
  • Look around and check out some prices: how much will it cost to get the help you want with your book i.e. do you want a book coach or mentor, an editor, a cover designer, an eBook formatting service? Only budget for the services you want or need.
  • Review your budget and check that it's realistic. Avoid trying to do all the work yourself, especially if it will take a long time, be difficult to learn or cause you stress.

2: Do you have support and help on hand?

  • Consider who you want to hire to help you with your book. Who is going to edit it, coach you through the writing process, design your cover and format your book for electronic publication etc. Are you happy to source a supplier through online platforms such as Upwork, Fiverr or People Per Hour? Or would you prefer a recommendation from someone you know?
  • What experience do you need your team to have? Don’t hire a proof-reader to ‘edit’ your book if you really need a ghost-writer. Educate yourself so you hire the right people to do the right jobs before starting to write your book.
  • Before starting your book, gather together a small support team of friends and family. This will give you accountability as well as opportunities for pick-me-ups if you need them. Keep your support team intimate so you can truly share any low moments – Facebook isn’t the place for this!
  • Get some reviewers in place. Ask other experts in your field such as your coach, peers, former clients and any ‘big names’ you know if they’ll review your book for you when it's published. It's also worth getting a few people you trust and who know your work who can give you honest feedback on your book before you have it edited.

    Preparing is key when starting your book.
    Preparation is key when starting your book.

3: Have you done some research and development before starting your book?

  • Once you have an idea, make sure you spend some time exploring and developing it. Write, think, play and allow your idea room to grow and evolve. You can do this by writing blog posts, posting ideas on social media, deepening your knowledge and asking questions.
  • It's helpful to read other books in your field. Use Amazon's Look Inside facility so you see their contents page. But..make sure you develop your own ideas before you do this, otherwise you may get confused.
  • Develop some book title ideas before starting your book. Think about what you want your book to be about and what you want to say. Get a picture in your head of what you want, create a vision board or gather a file (real or virtual) of other titles and covers you like. Even if you don't come up with the perfect title at the start, use a working title instead.
  • Do you want to produce a printed book? If so, take a look around at the different Print on Demand companies and get some dummy copies (blank versions of books) so you can see what the physical dimension of your finished book will be like.
  • You could even get a dummy cover printed so you can wrap it around your dummy book (publishers do this all the time!) to create a prototype. You can then get feedback on it or use it to pre-sell your book at talks or when you network.
  • Use your dummy book to guide your decisions about the length (number of pages), size (i.e. A5, 5” x 8“, Pocketbook) and paper quality (cream, pure white, heavier weight paper) of your book.
  • A physical dummy will help you make decisions and produce the book you want. It'll also help you work out how long (in pages and words) you want book to be. That way, you'll know how much writing you need to do.
  • For a digital book aim to write around 12-15,000. For a paperback of around 150-200 pages, you'll need to write around 40-50,000 words.
  • Get a 3D image of your book made up early on so you can use it to promote your book. It will also give you a sense of how it will look when it’s finished (you can get this done for $5 on
  • Create a Landing Page (a dedicated web page with no navigation links).Then add a sign-up box so you can capture leads. Offer something of value in return for your subscriber's email address. Email them at least once a fortnight. More often as you get closer to publication.
  • Before starting your book, work out if there are any gaps in your knowledge. Do you need to gather some additional facts and data? If so, start doing that research now. Compile a list of quotations, case studies or stories that will illustrate your key points. Seek out people you want to interview then schedule time into your diary to speak to them.
  • Consider whether you want to include illustrations in your book. If so, find out what the technical specification is for illustrations. If you're using photos, make sure they are of a high enough resolution (it's usually 300dpi for print).
  • Ideally, get any illustrations drawn by a professional. Use a freelance site to find someone whose style matches your requirements. Tell the illustrator the size you want the images to be. Tell them the dimensions of your finished book and the resolution you need the images to be (again, 300dpi is the standard).

4: Have you thought about marketing before starting you book?

  • Before starting your book, think about how you are going to market and sell it. Use the time before you start work on your book to create some free resources for marketing purposes. This will make your launch easier and help you sell more books.
  • As you get closer to publication, you will get increasingly busy. So, do as much work as possible before starting your book.
  • Get clear about why you are writing your book. Are you aiming to get people into your sales funnel? Do you want to promote your courses or workshops? Are you hoping to enhance your reputation in your field? Is it so you can get noticed and widen your reach? Use this information to help you shape your book so it meets your goals.
  • Before starting your book, set up a sales page/autoresponder system so you can build a list of potential buyers for your book. This kind of tech work can be demanding if you do it while in the throes of writing and publishing your book. If you find this kind of work challenging or you're not comfortable with techie stuff, it can be especially hard.

5: Can you make the time to do the work?

  • Plan, plan, and plan again! The more you plan, the more easily you will write and finish your book. Planning forces you to think ahead so you make informed decisions. This will save you a lot of time later on.
  • Decide on a publication date and work out whether it is achievable. Publishing involves other people so make sure you leave enough time for editors, designers, illustrators etc to do their work.
  • Bear in mind that it can take time to get review copies of your book back from a Print On Demand company. It also takes a few days for all elements of a Kindle book to go live on Amazon (i.e. Look Inside facility). If possible, leave a clear week between finishing your book and publishing it.
  • Use the pre-order facility to build sales ahead of publication for both print and Kindle. Most traditional publishers have a six week gap between receiving books from the printer and publication. This allows time for distribution and marketing.
  • Before starting your book, get as many routine jobs done in advance as you can. For example, create a bank of blog posts, social media posts, podcast interviews. Organise your business admin etc. Free up as much time as possible so you can focus on your book while you’re writing and publishing it.

Finally, keep up your momentum. Do as much preparation and planning as you can before starting your book. Anything you do ahead of time will be a help. Stay positive and keep doing the work so you maintain your momentum and stay on track.

If you want to write a book but you’re not sure how to get started (or finished), why not book a free session with me to talk through the process and what you might need to get started. Arrange a FREE Publishing Strategy session today and work out the best way for you to publish your book so you achieve your business and publishing goals.

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Deborah Taylor
Deborah Taylor

Hi, I'm Deborah Taylor and I'm a publishing consultant and book-writing mentor. I work with established business owners who want to share their message by writing a book but are struggling to get started (or finished). I help them write, publish and launch a stand-out, attention-grabbing book that will raise their profile, reach more of their ideal clients and grow their business. I am a trained editor with over 15 years' publishing experience with major blue-chip UK publishing companies such as Hodder & Stoughton, BBC Books, Cassell and Pearson. I have produced books on every subject under the sun and with professinals and experts from a wide range of professions, from chefs and gardeners to life coaches and career consultants. I would love to help you write a book you love and that will raise your profile, attract new clients and bring you exciting new business opportunities.