Writing a book: commonly made mistakes and tips to avoid them

Millions of people want to write a book. Many of them started working on this during Corona lockdown, but then, unfortunately, stopped again. What are the most commonly made mistakes when writing a book? And how can you avoid them? After writing 30 books, I share all my tips and insights in my book ‘Reverse Writing’. In this blog, you’ll find the commonly made mistakes and tips on how to avoid them.

Mistake: “A book writes itself”

Like most writers, I wrote my first book in a linear fashion: I started on page one with enthusiasm and a great idea and struggled through to the last page. A year later – after a lot of hard work, rewriting, and restructuring – I finally had a book. Unfortunately, many book projects don’t make it through restructuring and rewriting. If you follow the page numbers instead of your energy, you will get stuck at some point. Writing then becomes ‘must’ and that looks too much like work… ☹

Writing a book: commonly made mistakes and tips to avoid them. Writing your book

Tip: Start at the end

The secret is to start with the most important page of your book. Write your back cover first! This ‘elevator pitch’ is the first thing potential readers read; in a bookstore or online. It is also the summary of your book that you might send to a publisher, for example. In addition, it also offers a good structure for your writing process: how are you going to fulfill the promise you make to your readers on the back cover of your book?

Mistake: Start writing enthusiastically

Many writers begin to write with delight, without an overview or a clear structure. That feels great in the beginning, but unfortunately, it rarely yields results. At some point, you cannot continue and you have to rewrite pieces; and then you lose your motivation. Most book projects disappear in a drawer or forgotten computer folder at this point.

Tip: First create a structure

Whether you are writing a novel or a business book; I strongly recommend that you to first make a rough outline, storyline, and chapter layout. Determine what goes where in each chapter. With a clear structure, you don’t have to worry about what fits where. Now you can just follow your energy as you write, even working randomly on different parts of your book if you wish.

Mistake: Starting from scratch

Having a blank page in front of you often blocks your creativity. It can also feel overwhelming to start such a big project from scratch. And you probably recognize that feeling of “I’ve written this before, haven’t I?”

Tip: Use what you already have

The things that you have already written are a springboard for your book! Many writers don’t realize they already have a lot of material they can reuse. Blogs, training courses, websites, emails, presentations, diaries: there are bound to be pieces that you can use in one of the chapters or themes in your table of contents that you already have material for.

Mistake: Do not start promotion until your book is ready

If you start thinking about marketing when your book is finished, it is already too late. At the launch of your book, you only have one moment, while more promotional opportunities can be created in the preliminary phase. Moreover, it often takes time to reach the right target group in the right way, so it is better to start early.

Tip: Communicate about your book from the moment you have finished your back cover.

The writers I coach often already sell hundreds of copies of the book they are still writing by presenting the concept to their network. By letting your target audience know that your book is coming, you also create involvement. You expand your network with journalists, ambassadors, and possible readers. And you will have the opportunity to practice your communication style so that you do not send out that annoying ‘buy my book’ promotion, but instead you do it in a way that is appropriate, engaging and actually works.

The bottom line is that you reverse the entire process of writing a book. My ‘Reverse Writing’ system gives you a completely different writing experience. I’ll tell you more about it in this video:

Are you serious about writing your book?

Don’t reinvent the wheel, like I did. As the author and co-author of more than 30 books, writing coach for hundreds of people and organizer of 20 writing retreats, I have finally found the best system for writing a good book: the ‘Reverse Writing’ method. If you begin at the end and create a good structure before you start writing, you will be able to follow your energy, instead of the page numbers.

Learn all tips & tricks in the live online workshop

Everything you need to turn your idea into a bestseller: practical advice, examples, and inspiration about writing, publishing, and promoting your book. Check out the ‘from idea to book’ workshop.

werboek back front cover - Why you should start promoting your book while you're writing it

Personal guidance

Private writing coaching is a unique opportunity to work on your book with my personal guidance and support. Book a single strategy session or plan a series of 1-on-1 calls. Do you want the best for your book?

A writing retreat in an exotic location?

During the online writing retreat@home or an all-inclusive retreat on my favorite islands or in the French Alps, you will work with like-minded people and get 1-on-1 guidance. The daily workshops help to get started, followed by focused writing time, delicious food, and personal guidance & feedback. Where will we go?

The book ‘Reverse Writing’

Learn my Reverse Writing method (start with the back cover) in my brand new, the super-comprehensive book ‘Reverse Writing’ and the companion workbook. You will find a step-by-step explanation, lots of examples, inspiration, and practical tips about writing, promotion, and publishing your book.

Original ideas and proven formats for your next bestseller

A successful book starts with a good idea. Check out the 10 best ‘formulas’ I’ve found for successful non-fiction books. Each of these ten proven formats gives you a different perspective, inspiration, and examples you can adapt for your own book. Subscribe to my ‘interested in writing’ list for book inspiration & tips and immediately receive the PDF with 10 ideas for a successful non-fiction book.