ultimate guide to writing your manifesto

The Ultimate Guide to Writing Your Manifesto

Are you ready to dive into the self-publishing game, but not ready to get a novel out there? Writing your manifesto could be the perfect first step to whet your publishing appetite and help you learn the ins and outs of the tools and skills you’ll need.

A manifesto is “a public declaration of policy and aims”- for the less stuffy of us, that means it’s a piece of work that tells people who you are, what you do, and why you do it.

Whether you’re launching a business or starting a career as a fiction writer, a manifesto can be a solid cornerstone for your author platform. It helps readers understand your personality and style and learn what to expect from the rest of your work. If you’re already blogging to build your platform, a manifesto e-book can be the bridge from that quick, free content to novel-length works your audience will buy from you.

As massive as the word sounds, writing a manifesto doesn’t have to be a massive task. Follow these bite-sized steps to write your manifesto right now:

1. Commit to Your Writing Routine.

Start by setting a deadline and word count target for your first draft. Use that to set a daily word count target, and determine how much time you need to write to meet that. Add these to your calendar.

2. Clarify Your Message in Your Manifesto.

Before you start writing whole-hog, spend a few sessions getting clear on the “policy and aims” you want to present to readers. This is as much for you as it is for your readers; take the opportunity to intimately understand the purpose of your work, and create something that shares clearly with your audience.

3. Define Your Audience.

Outline your ideal reader, based not only on demographics but also on psychographics–their desires, needs, and struggles. How does your work fit into their lives? For example, they might relate to your characters because they share the same struggles. Or they might learn from what you write and make positive changes in their own lives.

4. Describe Your Offer.

Help readers understand exactly what you offer them. Your “offer” is what people will buy from you–whether they’re actually handing over cash, or giving their email addresses, or simply their trust in coming back to you again and again.

You might state your offer explicitly through your manifesto, or maybe you’ll simply demonstrate it through the ideas you share. Either way, get crystal clear on your offer before you start writing, so it’s clear throughout.

5. Determine Your Action Steps.

What do you want readers to do after they’ve read your work? What steps will they be inspired to take next? These can be huge and altruistic, or simple and entertaining–it’s all about who you are as a writer. Make a list of the actions you want to see from readers, and ask yourself as you write and edit whether your manifesto will encourage them.

6. Know Your Unique Voice.

What’s so special about your message? Consider other writers in your space. How are you different? What will make your target audience come to you over anyone else? You’ll be able to convey this through the voice and tone of your writing, as well as through the things you say more blatantly.

7. Create Your Outline.

The key to making a book-length work feel like a do-able task is to start with a strong outline and stick to it. When you know exactly where you’re going and what pieces need to be filled in, you won’t have the excuse of writer’s block when you face your blank screen. Break down your outline into manageable chunks, so you can complete full sections each day.

8. Consider the FAQs.

Read through your outline. What questions remain unanswered? What information will your readers still have?

Tip: If you’re unsure, share your outline with trusted beta readers who fit your target audience. Ask them what information is missing. You can also consider questions your current readers frequently ask you, and determine whether those are answered throughout your manifesto.

9. Write!

As tough as it is to define your author brand, actually writing this thing is still going to be your biggest challenge. Follow the word count goals and deadlines you put on your calendar, and try a tool like OmmWriter or Write or Die if you find yourself easily distracted.

10. Review, Polish, and Edit.

Come to this step only after you’ve completed your first draft. Once you’ve got the words down, start with a self-review.

Go back to the notes you took to clarify your message the first few days. Does the book you’ve drafted convey your message? How will your audience receive it? Will it achieve your purpose? Is this a book you’d love to read?

Next Steps

Now you’ve got a draft. Now you move on to the parts of the publishing process where your skills and fortitude will truly be tested–where you’ll make your bones as a self-publisher. Experiment with e-book formats and platforms, learn what works and what doesn’t in cover design, and sort out your book promotion strategy.

Your manifesto will be a perfect catalyst for conversation with your audience, so when you’re ready to promote other work, they’re engaged and paying attention!

Tell me your opinion: Have you ever written a manifesto or mission plan for your writing career?

ultimate guide to writing your manifesto

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About Dana Sitar | @danasitar

Dana Sitar (@danasitar) is an author, blogger, and digital publishing coach to entrepreneurial writers and writerly entrepreneurs. She helps budding writers build a thriving community around their Big Ideas through coaching, courses, and community in blogging, email, social media, and ebook publishing.

Comments

  1. K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

    Thanks so much for sharing with us today, Dana!

  2. Steve Mathisen says

    Excellent points Dana! This should help a lot of us struggling out here find our way out of the morass of things to do.

  3. I thought of writing a manifesto before but couldn’t go around it because I didn’t know what to talk about.Thanks for giving the step by step process, it gave me an idea on how to go about writing my own. 🙂

    • That’s so awesome to hear, Joy! Thank you 🙂 I have all kinds of info on the editing, publishing, and promotion process; but more often I hear this same issue from writers: You just need to get clear on what you want to say. I’m happy to help you clarify your own idea. Please stay in touch, and let me know how the writing goes!

  4. Yes, when I made myself launch a blog three years ago. But I have outgrown the goals, themes and topics.

    Now that I have been putting off, two years, launch my author Website your list of tips and actions come as perfect timing for me.

    Thanks!

    • Happy to hear it, Deborah 🙂 I’ve found that on the brink of a launch or reboot of your business/career, writing a manifesto can be a perfect way to get clear on what you want it to look like (for you AND your audience).

  5. Hi Dana,
    An excellent post. I have not clearly written out a manifesto for my author blog..Just a moderate bio but you have opened my eyes for this is a resourceful post about expanding yourself to your readers base and I strongly encourage each author,especially indie authors to reach out to their readers in promoting quality works through their well-thought and prepared manifesto which will ultimately determine their writing success.

Trackbacks

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  6. […] This post was originally published at Helping Writers Become Authors. […]

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  9. […] is a manifesto? Why am I so bad at writing them? According to one source a manifesto is ‘a public declaration of policy and aims’, according to another it’s simply ‘a short letter/statement to yourself’. Neither of these […]

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