Writing Your First Book

From time to time in this space, Balboa Press publishes articles written by our authors in which they share some aspect of their self-publishing journeys. These are the words of Valerie Haynes Perry, author of “Write the Book You Want” which will come out this year. For more information about Valerie, check out her website. Download the Balboa Press free publishing guide to receive more information on self-publishing your book with Balboa Press.

You’ve made the leap beyond wanting to write a book and are adapting to your firm decision. So, settle back into your chair for a moment and reflect on all the things that drive you to write. Best case, you’re enjoying the process in some way despite subject matter that might be difficult to meet on its terms and your own.  If this is the case, seek clarity about how and why you’re exploring a certain topic or theme. Once you have certainty about your motivation, come back to it as needed as your written pages multiply.

VHP_photo for blogIn coaching other writers, I pinpoint their individual styles as an efficient and immediate way to help them move beyond the first word, sentence, paragraph, and page. (Already, your style is unique, too.) One of my clients is writing a historical book and is deciding on whether to “tell the story for true” or fictionalize it. In listening to her relate a conversation that influenced a key aspect of her work, I heard a conversational tone. I advised her to rewrite a section with that idea in mind and she was able to relax into a good forward flow. Along the way, she’ll naturally resolve the question about writing nonfiction or fiction.

Another client is writing her first novel at age 90. She uses the device of repetition consistently and effectively. This writer is also very witty and transfers that quality to her characters. Her literary voice has a strong quality of speaking to the reader. She is having a ball exploring new aspects of her imagination. Despite all this fun she’s having, she is also very clear about her intentions for her book.

Be gentle with your writerly self. Take yourself seriously yet relax into your writer’s persona. Page by page, build clarity about whether you’re writing for its own sake; you want to complete a manuscript and publish it; or have another equally or more important reason for writing your first book. As long as you maintain clarity, you will be successful.

Balboa Press authors who’d like to share a 350-600 word experience related to the self-publishing of their books, are invited to do so by sending a message through our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/BalboaPress, by tweeting us @BalboaPress, or by emailing dghosh@ balboapress.com. We may not be able to use every story, but we will read and consider them. Balboa Press reserves the right to edit stories for content, grammar and punctuation accuracy; as well as for space.


  1. What an inspiring summary. I appreciate your experience Valerie. I have had poems, artcles, and essays published, and throughout the years after many rejected submissions, I put down my pen. Now that I’m writing again, I’m looking forward to the publishing of a long awaited work…Thank you Valerie for assisting me through this project.

    1. Thank you for taking the time to send this kind and thoughtful post, Colleen. I’m grateful that you find my efforts useful. It’s thrilling to know that you’re well on your way to publishing your own book!

  2. thanks for the great post Valerie. I love to write when I am writing and the rest of the time seem to get really stuck trying to answer the question “what am I writing about?” lol. I have not committed to my book yet because I can’t figure this part out and yet I most definitely feel like I have something to say or a story to tell or… something. I will anxiously gobble up your insights at this great blog. warmly, aeriol

    1. Thank you for writing here, Aeriol. 🙂 I understand your sentiments about writing. You will know what you want to write as you gain clarity about your message(s). it’s great that you enjoy writing.

  3. Valerie, you are so insightful and inspirational. Your gifts with writing and mentoring are truly a blessing to the universe. I love best that you say “be gentle with your writerly self” because creating and crafting from the head to the page can take a lot of coaxing and kindness. Thank you for sharing your generous spirit and warm encouragement that our stories are worth being told.

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