Recently, we ran Self-Publish and Succeed Live—a 12-week course that teaches self-publish authors to write a great book that’s set up to sell and achieve their goals. During that class, we shared a non-fiction book chapter template. More than an outline, this was support for how to structure each chapter and ensure you’re writing a #noboringbooks manuscript.
If you’re looking to learn how to create chapter templates for your nonfiction book, this article is for you.
The 3 must-haves of a great non-fiction book chapter template
Why is it helpful to create book chapter templates? The reason is relatively simple: Once you create a template for each chapter, you’ll be able to write faster and more confidently.
This is because you’ve already formulated a plan for each chapter in your book. You know how to structure the message and content you have to share with your reader.
#1 Create a story for each chapter that gets your reader closer to their desired outcome
Your book needs a hook (if you haven’t got clear on that hook – do that first. The video below will help you with that.) But each chapter also needs a hook of its own. The hooks, in all these cases, are always an outcome of an outcome.
After writing your book outline—which is essentially a list of chapter concepts—you need to ideate a story arc to get to this reader’s outcome of an outcome.
Once you have your story, you need to look at each chapter concept—or chapter story—and determine the best structure for them.
Many people, including me, start by outlining a book with bullets. However, the book rarely ends up looking anything like those bullet points.
As I learned, thinking your book will look like your initial outline is a recipe for feeling discouraged and unproductive.
Instead, think of each chapter as a part of your story or a part of your overall message —an idea that needs to be explained.
For some authors, this might be a concept behind their overall process or a step in that process. It could also be an experience that led to a revelation.
For my upcoming book on book marketing, I basically took the overall idea that book marketing isn’t just about selling books. It’s also about using the book as a tool to build your brand and grow your business.
I started at the beginning where marketing needs to begin, which is before you start writing. Then, I took it through the whole process of writing a book until post-launch, when book sales may have stalled out, and you have to try to ignite them again.
The resulting book takes you through all the concepts, ideas, and strategic thoughts you need to set your book up for success in each of the phases you’ll find yourself in while writing, publishing, and promoting a book.
#2 Identify a clear approach to how each chapter tells your story
My own approach to chapters tends to be to tell a story or share an insight then I unpack it with the lessons, tips, or strategies that must be explored to teach the concept thoroughly. You could say this is a ‘lessons approach’ to a chapter, like the structure you’ll find in each of my YouTube videos.
I introduce the story, get you excited about what’s in store for you, and then share the steps, lessons, and examples you need to know to move forward.
In essence, I take a concept, then figure out what I need to share to teach you that concept. I also think about what you might not understand, what you’ve already tried that didn’t work, or where you might have doubts or misconceptions.
I ensure to address all of that in a chapter before I move on to the next one.
So for this to be a template, you want to look at it like a lesson or a concept to be taught. Then, you reveal the strategies, steps, and examples to be shared to teach that concept.
You also want to ensure that in this template, you’re addressing concerns, fears, or misconceptions that might hold your readers back from executing or understanding. You’d then lay the foundation for the next concept that will be taught.
This will be more of a story-to-be-told template if you’re writing a memoir.
I still believe that, with memoirs, there’s an outcome of an outcome to be shared. But, it’s being transmitted via telling a story. Each chapter will have its own action, obstacles, and emotions. And there should be a story arc to each chapter as much as to the whole book.
One of your chapters may be your signature speech, but if you think of each chapter almost like a talk, you can structure them in that way.
You introduce the concept in an attention-grabbing way because this is the #noboringbooks way, right?
Then, you’re going to hit your readers with steps and bullets. You then expand on each of those steps or bullets with stories, examples, or research. Finally, you wrap it all up with a promise of what is coming in the next chapter.
In a way, a book done like this can become an online course really easily. Turning a book into a course is also something we do at Book Launchers. We’ve even taken memoirs and turned them into online courses—a great way for your reader to really get deep into your message and get their own takeaways.
#3 Create powerful chapter hooks for each book chapter template
It’s crucial when you work with a book chapter template to remember that each chapter needs its own hook.
Why does the reader need or want to know what’s in this chapter and what is going to draw them into this concept or message? Will it be a story, a revelation, or something they didn’t know before?
Surprising facts are one of my favorites. Even just a bold promise of how your reader’s life is about to be different can do wonders.
Once they’ve got that hook, you share the stories, steps, strategies, research, case studies, or other material to support your concept.
Ensure the reader has what they need to get the outcome of the outcome for that chapter. Then, lay the foundation for the next thing.
You can even tease the benefits of what’s to come and show why getting through this section was vital to the success they will achieve from reading the next section.
In addition to inviting you to join our next class of Self-Publish and Succeed Live or suggesting you get a copy of “Self-Publish & Succeed” to read, you should also watch this “chapter” right here on how to start your chapters out. Hence, they hook people in from the beginning.[VIDEO – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_z8mFkhvi1M]
Or this one on the 4 book writing myths you shouldn’t believe.[VIDEO – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I4K3VYL5_hA]
Looking to finally get your book project out into the world? Book a call with us today.
We’ve helped hundreds of successful authors ideate, publish, and market their non-fiction books to grow their businesses. We’ll be with you at every step of your author’s journey.