104: How to write your first book – with Elizabeth Kracht

By February 11, 2020The Simplifiers Podcast

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Do you want to write your first book this year?  So do I! I’m knee deep in the process already but when I first got started, I know I had swirling thoughts like, “…umm, how do I do that?!” 

My special guest today is Elizabeth Kracht and she is simplifying how to write your first book. If you’ve never done it before, it can be a mystifying and harrowing process. Do you self-publish or not? Do you write the whole book or just start with a rough outline? And where in the world do you meet a literary agent?? So many questions… all the questions! Don’t worry, I asked them ALL for you.

My hope is that today’s conversation spins you in the right direction if you’re just getting started on writing your first book.

Here’s how.


Elizabeth Kracht simplifies how to write your first book.

In this episode, you will learn:

  • What the very first step is that you need to take once you’ve decided to write a book 
  • A few questions that’ll help you define the core building blocks of your book and ensure you stay on track throughout the entire writing process. Ask yourself…
    • What do you most want to say with your work and WHY? 
    • How do you want to help people with this book? 
    • Who is your exact target audience?
  • How to decide which genre is the very best for the message you want to convey and she shared a few different genre options that are best if you’re writing a non-fiction book
  • What elements you’ll need to include in your book proposal, including…
    • the overview
    • the target audience
    • about the author section
    • your marketing plan
    • your list of competitive titles
    • the chapter outline
    • a couple sample chapters
  • All about the bells and whistles… what are a few additional features that you could include in your book that would make it a richer reading experience and more exciting for your reader? Things like…
    • case studies
    • music playlists
    • worksheets & journaling prompts
    • recipes and more
  • How to format your book, especially if you’re publishing in the US

If you’re anything like me, I bet half of your heart is totally excited about the writing process and ready to dive in… and the other half is utterly petrified! It’s the fact that “you don’t know what you don’t know” that makes the entire process exhilarating.

Just remember… anything new is going to be a wee bit scary at first. Riding a bike, going scuba diving, or even when you take the leap to write your first book.

That’s why most people don’t do it. It’s the great unknown and it’s much, much easier to sit back, instead of taking action on this dream. But if you’re tuning in right now and you hear that Divine whisper in your heart telling you to “write that book!” – my hope is that today’s conversation gives you a little more confidence and a whole lot of spark to go out and #dothething!

My challenge for you this week:

How are you going to take what you’ve learned in today’s episode and apply it to your writing process this week? What will you do differently or experiment with? Share it with me, privately or publicly. Snap a photo of you doing the thing, and tag @thesimplifiers on Instagram for added accountability and support!

Links, books and apps mentioned:

Book: The Author’s Checklist: An Agent’s Guide to Developing and Editing Your Manuscript – Elizabeth Kracht

Book: The Menendez Murders: The Shocking Untold Story of the Menendez Family and the Killings that Stunned the Nation – Robert Rand

Book:  I’ll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman’s Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer – Michelle McNamara  

Resource: Publisher’s Marketplace

Resource: Writer’s Digest

Resource: Pacific Northwest Writers Association Conference (PNWA) – September 2020, annually

Resource: Willamette Writers Conference in Portland – August 2020, annually  

Podcast: How to create your life with intention, featuring Danielle LaPorte – The Simplifiers Podcast

Podcast: How to tell a compelling story – The Simplifiers Podcast

Favorite quotes from this episode:

[04:48] “What’s the most important thing that you want to say to your audience? What is your gift? And what this can help do is keep the content [of your book] on track so that you never move too far away from that point.” 

– Elizabeth


[07:47] “In book publishing, when we write book proposals, it takes some knowledge and expertise to really understand how to really narrow that down because most people want to believe that their book is for everybody. Anyone’s going to love this book. It can be for men and women, but book publishing kind of knows that. That’s not really the case. There’s an age range, there’s a [specific] gender that is associated with buying this particular book, like self help books. So, usually it’s really trying to narrow down your audience and who that reader is specifically.”

– Elizabeth


[09:45] “Readers that are buying the most books, fall in the [Adults ages] 45 to 75 [range.] I think that’s where most of the avid readers are.” 

– Elizabeth


[18:09] “Go into a bookstore and look around. Look at the self-help or do-it-yourself sections or whatever genre you think you might fit into. And then look at the different styles [of books that are] out there. Look at how these authors are approaching their work and see if a particular style fits your work, as well.”

– Elizabeth


[32:51] “Usually with agents, it’s a standard 15% [commission] that we take of anything earned by the authors. So if you’re running into somebody who is taking more than that, then that’s a red flag.”

– Elizabeth

Get Unstuck with The Simplifiers Morning Prompts

We’ve got a free resource we’d love to share with you! If you want to make the most of your day today and help get your writing wheels going, download The Simplifiers Morning Prompts. 

It’s a free daily worksheet that helps you laser-focus in on what needs to get done today, what could trip you up and how you’re going to stay on track. 5 questions, 7 minutes… this worksheet will help you SIMPLIFY!

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About Elizabeth Kracht

Elizabeth Kracht – She is the author of The Author’s Checklist and is a literary agent with Kimberley Cameron & Associates. She also worked as a freelance developmental editor for She Writes Press and was a founding member of the Kauai Writers Conference and Reputation Books.

She often participates in writers’ conferences nationally and internationally, does freelance editing, and lives in Tiburon, California. 

Where Elizabeth hangs out online:

Website: elizabethkracht.com

Website: kimberleycameron.com

Twitter: @elizabethkracht

Instagram: @elizabethkracht

Facebook: @elizabeth.kracht

Elizabeth’s vote for the perfect guest on The Simplifiers Podcast:

Jill Sherer Murray – She is a TEDx speaker, author, blogger, coach, and founder of Let Go For It℠ – a lifestyle brand dedicated to helping individuals let go for a better life and organizations let go for better business results. She is also an award-winning journalist and communications leader who can trace practically every success she’s had in her career, love life, and more to letting go. Her TEDx talk, The Unstoppable Power of Letting Go has been viewed by more than a million people on YouTube.

Elizabeth Kracht write your first book

Watch the video version of the episode

Episode sponsored by…


Ethical Hour

Ethical Hour is the world’s first and largest online community for changemakers, social entrepreneurs and impact businesses, where you can meet like-minded friends, collaborators and supporters – and get the help you need to grow your income, influence, and impact. 


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