How to Start Writing a Non-Fiction Book

You already know the tremendous benefits of writing, publishing, and selling a non-fiction book. It’s a fantastic way to boost your business, grow your income, and get booked on media and stages. But, you’re probably thinking, how do I start writing a non-fiction book? What is the first step?

If that’s you, this is for you.

Before you start writing a non-fiction book consider what your goal is.

If you’re thinking, I want to be a bestseller, then you have to dig deeper and figure out why?

This article on why you are probably wasting time chasing Amazon bestseller status is worth a read too.

Most importantly, figure out what you want your book to do for you. Do you want:

  • To find more clients?
  • Paid speaking gigs?
  • To solidify your position as the authority in the industry and get more media attention?
  • A way to connect with specific influencers and people in your community?

Once you figure that out, you can dive into what angle you need to take with the book to achieve that goal.

Next, you need to figure out who you are writing the book for.

Who is your ideal reader? What problem do they have that you can solve with your book. Bonus points if you know who your reader is so well that you can identify the books they are already reading, the conferences they attend, the podcasts they listen to and who they are influenced by right now.

Finally, what is the hook of your book?

The hook is the single thread of an idea that ties your entire book together. It’s what makes your book different and ‘hooks’ your reader in so they feel like they have to read your book right now.

When you talk about your book, the hook is what you’ll say to get someone excited about reading it. It’s kind of like an elevator pitch for your book.

Let’s look at some examples of great hooks for books.

The 4-Hour Workweek wasn’t really about working four hours a week. It was a comprehensive game plan to ditch the nine to five from a cubicle and create a business that supports you living an exciting adventure filled life.

T. Harv Eker’s, The Millionaire Mind showed how some folks seem to get rich easily while others are destined for a life of financial struggle.

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*CK shows us how to stop trying to be positive all the time, so that we can truly become better, happier people.

So think about a sentence or two that people will use to tell their friends about your book. You can even test it out with your clients and colleagues. If you have something that has your ideal reader going, ooh, I have to read that book, then you’ve probably found your hook.

For help figuring it out and getting started writing a non-fiction book – contact us today! We’d love to help you. Grab our 7 Steps to Start Writing a Non-Fiction book or set up a call to speak with us.

 

 

Still Looking for a Book Deal with a Traditional Publisher? That’s so 2012 …

While you waste two years pursuing a book deal with a traditional publisher your competition has already published their book and begun to profit. Traditional book deals aren’t dead … there are some sensible reasons to pursue a traditional book deal, but self-publishing is quite possibly the best solution for you.

Even if I was offered a traditional book deal right now, I wouldn’t take it. Here’s why:

Reason One for Not Taking a Traditional Book Deal: Money

I make way more money self-publishing. To self-publish my first book, I invested a total of $12,800 when you include hiring a PR company. That’s with me doing all the legwork to research the steps, hire everyone, set up accounts, upload all my files, and project managing the entire process. It was a giant pain, and it took more than a few hundred hours to do. Forget about just the writing. I also made some huge mistakes, including one that cost me bookstore distribution in the province of Alberta, you can see a video about that one right here, and another error that cost me $1,200 in returned book charges. You can see about that mistake here.

It was worth it, but if a company like Book Launchers had been around in 2013, I would’ve happily paid them that money and more to do it all for me.

There are plenty of reasons besides money to write a book. I covered that right here:


But, there is a lot of money to be made in book sales and beyond if you do it right.  In the last four years, I’ve made more than $63,000 from the sale of More Than Cashflow, and that’s just from Amazon and bookstores. I’ve also made thousands of dollars selling books at the back of the room where I’ve spoken or had a booth.

Because I owned my book, I was also able to use it as currency. I traded copies of my book for more than $30,000 worth of magazine advertising space.

If I had landed a traditional book deal, I would’ve made less than $10,000 from the same quantity of book sales. I also couldn’t have easily used my books as currency to trade for advertising because I would’ve had to pay retail price to the publisher to buy copies of my book to do the deal. It cost me $4 and something to buy each book from the print-on-demand publisher. It would’ve cost me closer to $15 to buy it from the publisher. What I could do with the content for creating courses, talks, and other off-shoots would have been subject to the publisher’s approval as well.

Reason Two for Not Taking a Traditional Book Deal: Creative Freedom

Now, some of these financial benefits of publishing a book would’ve come about with a traditional publisher, but not all of them. With a traditional publishing deal, I would’ve had to compromise on the subject matter of the book. It would have made the book much less impactful. The traditional publishers I spoke with actually rejected my book idea, saying there was already too many generic real estate investing books on the market. The idea the publisher gave me to write about was kinda lame (real estate investing for couples). I’m glad I didn’t get a deal to write that book. I knew my market.

That’s part of the reason my book became an Amazon Overall #1 Bestseller and stayed into the Top 100 for 45 days. It was unique, but the publisher didn’t know my market as I did and wanted me to go into a boring niche. I’m so glad I didn’t get that book deal.

Reason One for Not Taking a Traditional Book Deal: Rights and Control

I’ve watched a lot of my friends get book deals and ultimately be very unhappy about it. It usually comes down to the rights and control. Most traditional publishing deals require you sign over the audiobook rights, but often the publisher may not create one for you. You don’t have the rights to produce one for yourself. So you’re stuck. But, it’s more than that.

Who owns the content in your book? Not you when you take a traditional publishing deal. One friend of mine even had their book republished, word for word, under another person’s name. The intro and title changed, but it’s 95% his book, now being sold under someone else’s name. The publisher can do that because they own the content. Another friend bought his book rights back from the publisher because he was tired of them limiting what he could do with the brand.  Jim Kukral of the Sell More Books Show was recently pleading with his listeners to buy his last 70 copies of his book to free him from his oppressors, his publisher. Traditional publishing is a broken model, and it doesn’t offer the advantages people think it does.

Maybe a book deal with a traditional publisher is right for you

Maybe traditional publishing is right for you, but quite likely, it’s not. Fewer traditional deals are done now. The deals all take a long time. You usually need to find an agent. That takes time. Then, you write a book proposal and sit gets shopped around. That takes time. Then, if anybody bites, there are contract negotiations. If you start now, two years from now, you might have your book out.

With self-publishing, you could have a book out in the next six to 12 months. A lot could happen in that year … and in the meantime, while your book isn’t out, you’re almost guaranteed to be leaving money on the table. Other people with books are landing the paid speaking gigs, the consulting clients, or selling more products.

But there are reasons to pursue a book deal.

The significant benefit of pursuing a traditional publishing deal is ease of distribution. If you traditionally publish your book, it’s more likely to be carried in bookstores. You’re also more likely to be eligible for the huge best-seller list like New York Times and Wall Street Journal, and the traditional publisher does take a risk on your book, footing the bill for the team that will take your book from concept to print.

But, don’t expect that they are going to do much to sell your book!

You, the author, are still 99% responsible for marketing. Let me repeat that part because it’s so important. Even with a traditional publishing deal, the author is responsible for marketing the book. In other words, you do all the sales work and you write the book, and they take 85% of the revenue. Sound fair?

Finally, and this is another really important thing to know. The only person who REALLY cares if you got a book deal is you. Readers don’t care. If the book is done professionally and gives them massive value, they are happy.

Some authors are happy with their book deals.  It can be a great solution for the right people. Just don’t go into it thinking this big company takes care of everything but the writing. That just isn’t true.

If that was why you were pursuing the book deal, check out what we do at Book Launchers. We do EVERYTHING a publisher would do AND we help you market your book to achieve your goal. The best part is that you keep all the rights and royalties.

To learn more, let’s chat.

finding great ghostwriters

An Epic Guide to Finding and Hiring a Great Ghostwriter

You don’t think Sarah Palin, Beyonce, Pamela Anderson, Lance Armstrong, and Nicole Richie actually wrote their books? As one celeb said, “I don’t do my own typing.” So many bestselling books were the result of an author hiring a great ghostwriter.

Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People was written with Ken Shelton. Richard Branson in Losing My Virginity acknowledges Edward Whitley. Howard Schultz’s Onward was penned by Joanne Gordon. Many of the top-selling CEO and celebrity books are penned by someone else, but the book could not exist without the author. The ghostwriter provides the words, and sometimes some supplemental research, but not the expertise, not the story nor the advice in the pages.

That’s all you, the author. So, if you hate writing, don’t have the time to do it, or you just know you aren’t the best person for the job, a talented ghostwriter could be the right solution for you.

A ghostwriter is someone who can write your book, in your words. Good ghostwriters work hard to capture your voice to create a first draft.

So, what exactly does a great ghostwriter do?


First, the ghostwriter needs to flush out the concept for the book. Which means, identifying the ideal reader, and the hook of the book. Working with the author, the ghostwriter will create the outline for the book.

Second, the ghostwriter has to get the content from the author. Usually, this involves interviewing the author extensively to capture their voice and expertise. The ghostwriter also will research the subject matter to supplement the content as needed.

At some point early on the writer will send a sample over to the author to check the tone of the writing. Then, they will put their head down and their hands to the keyboard and complete the first draft.

Finally, the writer then will take feedback on the full first draft from the author and rework the manuscript.

Once it’s a solid draft, it’s off the editors, and over to you, to review and revise.

 

If that sounds like exactly what you need help with, your next question probably is where can I find a great ghostwriter?

Ghostwriters are everywhere. We have several on our team at Book Launchers if you want help with a non-fiction book.

But, where do you find the right ghostwriter for you?

First, get as clear on your book project as possible. The more you know what you want, the easier it will be to identify a writer who can help you.

Consider:

These are all important things to figure out.

Now, you start looking. Here are three ideas for where to find a great ghostwriter:

Number one, you can ask your friends who have written a book.

Some may disclose they worked with one; others may say something like, “Oh, I have a friend who worked with one.”

Number two, check out writing groups on LinkedIn and Facebook.

Many of the groups are closed groups, but if you write the admin and let them know what you’re looking for, they just might put up a post on your behalf. When I was hiring a ghostwriter for Book Launchers, I received about 20 highly-qualified applicants from a writers group one of the people on my team is a part of. It was a fantastic source.

Number three, Google business ghostwriters.

I connected with a few ghostwriting service companies when I was trying to find a very specific, skilled ghostwriter for one of our clients.

Four, post a job where you might hire other freelancers, like Guru.com, Upwork.com, Indeed.com or Scriptd.

Post a job for a great ghostwriter could result in an overwhelming number of responses though. So, the next question you might ask is: How do you know when you’ve found a good ghostwriter?

 

We’ll cover that in a second, but first let’s explore what it can cost to hire a ghostwriter.

cost of hiring a great ghostwriterWhen Book Launchers first started, we only helped you write your book with writing coaches. We didn’t have ghostwriters on our team. Then one of our clients said, “I don’t want to be the one to put the words to my expertise.” I tried to argue the benefits of writing his book, but he insisted,  “It’s not a good use of my time. Find me a writer.”

My first call was to a ghostwriter I knew would be perfect for him. She’s written at least one Wall Street Journal bestseller. My client loved her, but her price tag of $50,000 to $60,000 was a bit of a budget killer. So I brought in another writer who was a well-respected sports biography ghostwriter. He couldn’t disclose a lot of his clients as many people don’t want you to know that they didn’t write their book. And because I didn’t know his experience level as well, I expected him to be cheaper than the other one. He came in at $1 per finished word.

Most business books are somewhere around 50,000 to 75,000 words, so you can see how $1 a finished word could add up.

So, I expanded my search and I started interviewing all kinds of people who had ghostwriting experience. Most of the other quotes came in between $25,000 and $35,000 for a book. The cheapest ghostwriter I found, and they were a service, not a single writer, started at $18,000.

When you understand that it will take most ghostwriters up to six months to write your book, the prices make sense. Great ghostwriters dedicate a lot of their life and time to this project. They aren’t making a living if they charge much less. And it’s not easy being a great ghostwriter, it’s a skill to be able to write a book well and to do it in someone else’s voice.

It’s not just a matter of putting words to the paper; it’s a matter of making sure they would be words that you, the real author of the book, would use.

Now, you can hire much cheaper writers. And the writing might even be half decent. The issue is that it’s not your voice and that is so important. It’s not your book if it’s not your voice. And if someone writes in a different style than you would, then you have a mountain of work to do to redo it. Sure, you save money, but you add a whole lot of time, energy and effort to the entire project.

Bottom line: to get a skilled professional ghostwriter working on your book, you’re looking at a minimum of 30 cents per finished word. The average cost is going to be closer to 50 cents per word. The more experienced the writer and the more extensive the work you’re asking for them to do, the higher the price.

 

Now, how do you select a great ghostwriter?

With all of the other things figured out, including:

  • Your goals for the book,
  • What you need your writer to do,
  • Where you are going to find your ghostwriter, and
  • How much you expect to pay,

now it’s time to uncover the secret to screening and choosing the best ghostwriter for your project.

This isn’t as easy as you might think because most people who hire ghostwriters don’t want you to know they didn’t write their book, so this presents a pretty big challenge.

How do you evaluate a ghostwriter’s work if they’re not allowed to tell you the books they’ve written?

In many cases, the ghostwriter has signed an NDA, so they can’t tell you they wrote that book. The more experienced ghostwriters will be able to point to a few projects they’ve worked on and can give you samples of their writing, but how do you know if they’ve captured the author’s voice if you don’t get to know who the real author is?

There’s a lot of ways to approach this, but here’s how I hire ghostwriters for Book Launchers:

Number one, I put something in the job ad that acts as an initial screen.

For example, I ask a weird question, like their favorite fruit, or I request that they do not send a resume, but instead send a short writing sample. If they don’t follow that instruction, I immediately eliminate them. If they lack care and attention to detail at the start when they should be showing their best self, it’s not a good sign for me, and it’s an immediate rejection.

Number two, I make sure that they’ve worked on similar projects.

Have they written several business books before? Not just articles, but full books. Have they written any of their books? Ideally, I want to check out their writing somewhere. Assuming that the writing was decent and they had relevant experience, we’ll move onto number three.

Number three, I send them a content editing test.

I’ve been using the first five pages of a client’s manuscript. I ask them to read it, provide five suggestions to make it more engaging and easier to read without impacting the author’s voice. Do they recognize the key issues? Can they offer interesting suggestions to improve the material? Are they able to identify questions they should be asking?

Number four, I then set up a time to chat.

When we’re talking, I’m looking for personality fit, engagement, and dedication. I don’t have a specific list of questions I’m asking when I interview a potential ghostwriter except for the following:

  • What do you love about writing non-fiction books? I’ve found a lot of ghostwriters who are passionate about fiction, but non-fiction pays their bills. I’m looking for a writer that loves learning new things and turning them into material that will be helpful and easy to digest for someone else.
  • How do you approach a ghostwriting project? There isnt’ a right answer but they need a process. If someone doesn’t have an approach at all, I will be concerned about their true experience level.
  • Finally, how do you prefer to communicate with a client?

If everything looks good, references are next.

Ask, “What was it like “to work with them?” “What was challenging about working with the writer? “What did you have to do to help them with the project?” And then, even ask them, “What did you think “the process was like?”

Now, before you hire them for the full project, you still may want to do a tester. Maybe you pay to an article written for you. That way you can see how it is to work with them and if they can capture your voice before you hire them to write your full book.

Finally, you have to talk price and expectations. You should have a good idea of this from above already. But here’s a few more points on this:

The lower the price, the faster they’re going to need to go to get to a first draft. This isn’t a bad thing, but know that they’re making money on quantity, not quality.

You have to manage them, set deadlines, layout expectations and provide feedback.

Remember, you’re getting a manuscript, not a book. You still have to hire editors, layout designers, cover creators, and more.

Writers won’t give you a satisfaction guarantee because it sets themselves up for a world of pain if they get a picky client. You can set a number of re-writes or revisions in your contract, but it will not be unlimited. It’s your job to manage the process from the start to make sure you get what you want.

If all this sounds like a giant pain in the behind, and it is, we can help! We now have writing coaches who help clients to write their book. If you prefer to have an experienced ghostwriter do the writing for you, we can do that, too! The best part is we can do it for less than it would cost if you hired one of these amazing writers on your own. If you want to chat about it, fill out this form and we’ll hop on the phone!

Are You Successful Enough to Write a Book?

“I want to write a book, but I don’t think I’m successful enough.”

Have you thought that? I get it … when I wrote my first book to help real estate investors, I wondered the same thing.

My husband and I had been investing for ten years, but we were far from driving Lamborghini’s and vacationing on yachts. We knew several folks who had done more than 100 deals. Two of our friends in Florida had done more than 300 deals!

Who were we to write a real estate book? When I started writing, I think we’d done 30 deals, and many of them were problem properties, not profit centers. I didn’t have all the answers, but I did have a perspective that wasn’t being shared that openly in the industry. And, I had the desire to share that perspective to help others.

The success of my book (it hit #1 Overall on Amazon as a print book!), proves it’s not about being the best or having the biggest numbers.

In fact, you might be MUCH better suited to write a book than the person who is THE BEST or THE BIGGEST.

Here’s why … Who would be best to learn from, someone who is a few miles ahead on the road you’re on, or someone like Elon Musk, Mark Cuban, or Richard Branson?

It’s fun to read about their journey, but it’s almost impossible to picture yourself doing what they have done. Most people would rather learn from someone who has unique insights and a different approach to teaching them EXACTLY what they need to know to move forward from where they are today.

So, look at it this way instead:

Someone is going to become famous doing what you do … why not you?

Kick those doubts to the curb by taking action. Start writing your book now. Determine the goal of writing a book and set to work on creating an outline. And the most important thing you can do is BE the person who would write the book you want to write.

Who You Be Comes First not WHAT YOU DO!

If you think you have to do SOMETHING BIG before you write your book, let me share something that changed my approach when I quit my job to start my first business.

This idea originated from Zig Ziglar:

‘Be, Do, Have

It’s the reverse to how most of us approach life. Most of us approach our goals with the idea that if we have x, we will do y and be z. For example, I thought: when I have an MBA, I can do a job where I make six figures, and then I will be successful, have freedom and feel financially secure.

It doesn’t work that way. In fact, that line of thinking often takes you in the entirely wrong direction – or at least that is what happened to me.

So many people think they need to have the perfect story for a book.  Then they can write a book, and become the known expert.

You DO need to have material for your book, sure. But, if you’re waiting to have something before you do something so you can be someone, it’s never going to happen.

The solution?

Figure out who you want to ‘be’ first.

Keith Cunningham business mentor explained it this way: “who you be dictates what you do, and what you do dictates what you’ll have.”

I think it’s about connecting to who you are and letting yourself be that person. That will dictate what you do, and what you have.

Consider carefully who you are. That’s where you begin when you set out to write a book, explode your career and become famous for what you do.  

And of course, you don’t know all the answers. Very few authors will when they set out to write ANY book. That’s part of the amazing benefit of writing a book. You add to your expertise and your network.

So … If you don’t have all the answers, who can you interview to help you get the answers?

What research can you add to the book to support your experience?

What stories can you find to illustrate the message you want to share?

BE your fabulous self, DO the work to fill in any gaps you may have and showcase the expertise that will help your ideal reader. Then, you will HAVE massive book writing success.

And if you need help – that’s what we do! Let’s chat about your book idea and how we can help you write, publish, and launch your book this year!

 

Why You’re Not Getting Your Book Done – But You Should Be

You have some excellent reasons why you’re not getting your book done.

It’s true.

What’s also true is that you should be writing your book anyway.

Reason #1 – I just need to do something more … then I can write my book.

“I don’t have enough experience,” “I haven’t done anything cool enough,” or “I don’t have the big successful ending yet” are all typical crutches that people lean on to not write their book.

My motto is, “Live a life worth writing about.”

Try new things. Take on new challenges. Face life head on. Do that, and you’ll have stories to share that will help people.

But besides that, have you ever heard of a writer named Napoleon Hill? Think and Grow Rich sold more than a hundred million copies worldwide, and guess what? It’s based on research, not experience.

He studied the individuals who built up personal fortunes and shared what he learned. By doing the research, he became the expert.

Reason #2 – I’m too busy


Admittedly there are times in your life when you do not have the bandwidth to spend five to ten hours a week working on a book. But is it really true right now? I’ve just had a baby, moved to a new country and launched a new business and I’m still writing my third book (of course, it’s MUCH easier to write your book with the help of a company like Book Launchers!). If you can find 30 minutes a day to write. Maybe on your commute, maybe speaking into a recorder, making notes on your phone at the doctor’s office. Then all you have to do is find an extra two hours on the weekend, maybe skipping some Netflix time, but don’t skip my videos, they’re valuable. Or maybe you just think you’re not a good enough writer. Well, that’s what editors are for, and if you do a lot of research, write a great

If you are committed you can find thirty minutes a day to work on your book. Maybe on your commute you can speak into a recorder, or make notes on your phone while you’re waiting at the doctor’s office. Some weeks you just need to skip that movie on Netflix and you’ve found the time.

Reason #3 – I’m not a good writer

Well, that’s what editors are for!  If you do your

If you do your research, and write a great outline then your book will almost write itself. But if you hate writing, then why don’t you try recording your book?

As long as you have a great outline to work with, you can just speak like you are telling your friend all about your book.

You can hire a company to transcribe it (for anywhere from .10 to $1.00 per minute), and then a great content editor will work magic on those words and turn it into the first draft of your book.

So guess what?

Those three reasons that you thought you had to not write your book, they’re excuses.

All you need is someone to just kick your ass and get it done. Or of course you can hire Book Launchers, because we’ve got a fantastic team of publishing professionals that are going to help you out, especially the writing coach who will help you craft a great outline and position your book so that it’s going to appeal to your ideal reader and sell a lot of copies.

Life is worth writing about. It’s time to share your story and build your business by writing your book! Set up a call to chat about starting your book!

 

The Secret to Completely Overcome Writers Block

You might be wondering how to overcome writers block permanently, but has this every happened to you?

Inspiration hits and you rush to your keyboard. You start pounding away at those little letters on your keyboard lighting it up with all the words that are flying out of you.

People need to hear this story!

When you’re done, you push your chair back from your desk and read it.

“Ugh. That is just a bunch of ramblings. Will anybody ever care about this?”

You drop the lid on your laptop and walk away…

Or, possibly more likely, you’ve sat down with the deep desire to start writing but that silly little cursor taunts you.

You stare at the blinking on the white screen wondering where to start or what you need to say.

If either of these things have ever happened to you there’s good news – there’s a really simple way to fix it.

How to Completely Overcome Writers Block (and Stop from Writing Ramblings)

The secret? Create an outline for your book before you start.

The outline is a non-fiction writer’s best friend.

We know your anxious to get going and write the darn book but skipping the stage of creating a great outline will cost you a lot of time later when you get stuck trying to overcome writers block or you waste dozens of hours writing material that never makes the final manuscript.

A good outline is your map. It lays out where your book is going, from start to finish. It also, conveniently, helps you gather all of the pieces and topics of your book prior to you writing a word. Then, when it’s time to write, it’s just like turning on your GPS with your destination. All you have to think about is when you make the next turn. The rest is in the plan and you just have to follow it.

You’re busy, right? This is the single biggest reason to take time now to create your outline – it saves you dozens and dozens of wasted hours later.

So … How do you create an outline?

It sounds simple, but the truth is that it’s not that easy to create a great outline. It’s why every Book Launchers client starts their book journey working with a Writing Coach who will guide them through creating their outline. Even with a professional by their side, this process often takes four to six weeks. It can be tricky to know what is important to include in a book, and what needs to be cut! (If you don’t think you’re a good writer at all, check out this article on writing a book when you aren’t a good writer).

Whether you decide to get help with your outline or not, there are three main approaches to laying out your book and putting it all together.

There are a variety of ways to outline your book. Different methods suit different people, depending on factors like the topic of the book, the author’s familiarity with the topic, or the type of learning that appeals to the author (visual, linguistic, kinesthetic, etc).

Here are three ways to outline your book. Try them all, or choose the one you know suits you the best.

Book Outline Method 1: Note Cards

Do you have sticky notes all over your office?

Does physically doing an activity jog your memory to what you thought of the last time you did that activity?

Note cards appeal to people who like to physically touch and handle their thoughts. If you like the notion of shuffling your ideas around like cards in a deck, note cards might be the method for you.

How it works

Buy a package of colorful 3×5 index cards. You want at least three colors. The pastels are easier to read your writing on versus the extreme colors.

Assign colors for each of the three parts of a chapter:
Chapter Subject: The main point of the chapter.
Chapter Topics: 3-5 Topics that expand on the chapter subject.
Chapter Sub-Topics: 3-5 subtopics that expand on the chapter topics.

Take 12-15 note cards and write down an idea for a chapter on each card.  If you’re writing a book on running your first 5K, for example, chapter subjects might include:

  • Equipment,
  • Nutrition,
  • Myths,
  • Injury Prevention, and
  • Training Schedules.

Each subject would get its own card. Your introduction doesn’t count, so if one of your cards is your intro, make another chapter heading.

Once you have 12-15 note cards assess what you have. Do all of these subjects really need their own chapter? Can some of them be combined into one? If they can, staple those cards together. Ask yourself, if you have enough material to make an entire chapter out of a subject.

Then, find two note cards that don’t belong and toss them. Having a fat book is not as important as having satisfied readers. Keep your book fluff-free! There are almost always a couple of subjects you think should be in your book, but when you look at all the topics laid out you can see that they just aren’t meaty enough to be their own chapter.

Now you have the Chapters of your book.

Exciting, right? You can really begin to see the shape and structure of your book. Now, you need to add a little more meat to it.

Next, uncover your chapter topics.

Write out 3-5 cards that further explain each chapter subject. To go back to our 5K running example, for Injury Prevention you might add Stretching, Hydration, Gradual Increases in Speed, and Slow Increases in Distances.

Finally, add your last color coded cards. On these 3-5 cards you would come up with details for each subtopic. For example, under Stretching, you may talk about Yoga moves, when to stretch, how long to stretch, and the best stretches for dealing with shin splints.

The big benefit of this method is being able to manually move pieces around, see what topics don’t have enough cards, and reorganize quickly. However, be aware that you may lose a card! Be careful to keep them organized in one place – get a recipe card box to store them in and once you have them in order, put a number in the bottom corner of each card.

Book Outline Method 2: MindMap

Do you like to doodle? Do you connect two unrelated topics by making intuitive leaps that leaves everyone else scratching their head?

Mind mapping appeals to people who like to work visually and creatively. If you like the idea of moving your book topics around on a canvas, then mind mapping might be for you.

How it Works

While pen and paper can work, you’ll have a lot more flexibility if you use one of the many mind mapping software programs available on the internet. Many are free, like mindmeister.com and most are fairly intuitive. Using software allows you to make easy deletes, color code your selections and move things around with a click of your mouse.

Start with your title in the center.

As you think of Chapter Headings, create circles that connect to the center. As details and topics occur to you, place them in headings or subheadings.

Populate your map over several days, letting your mind explore all the possibilities.

Play with the map and see how many circles you can get from the center.

As you fill in circles on your map, notice if it gets to be lopsided. Does a chapter subject not have enough topics to support it? You may need to reorganize or combine.

Does one chapter have a whole bunch of topics? Maybe it should be split into two.

Make sure you have at least three levels of detail from the center of your map (see example). If you find some ideas have appeared on your mind map that aren’t really applicable to your book you may want to create a new mind map for marketing ideas or other business ideas. You can go back to them once your first draft is finished.

The Mind Map is really helpful authors who have lots of ideas but don’t necessarily come up with their ideas in any discernible order. It’s a great way to get all your thoughts onto paper and explore the topics you want to cover. However, be aware that a Mind Map can become a distraction if you lose focus easily. It can also be very overwhelming if you are someone who really likes to have things in order.

Book Outline Method 3: Bullet Point Lists

If you make to-do lists and automatically group items according to where or when you plan on executing them, listing probably comes naturally to you. If you are a linear thinker or if you already have a good sense of the chapter subjects and chapter topics, this is probably the most efficient method to use to outline your book. If you have a good sense of what steps 1, 2, and 3 are in your book, start here.

How it works:

  • Make a list of 10-12 bullet points that you want to discuss in your book.
  • Create 3-5 sub points for each subject
  • Write 3-5 words that will help you remember what each sub point means
  • Just like the instructions for the above two methods, evaluate the subjects and topics. Cut or reorganize bullet points that are duplicated, don’t have enough sub points or don’t make sense in the context of the entire book.
  • Reorganize the bullet points in an order that makes sense to you.

Example:

  • 5K Book
    • Equipment
      • Footwear
        • Importance of proper fitting
        • Pronate vs. Supinate
        • Arch support
      • Apparel
        • Breath-ability
        • Cotton is Rotten
        • Chaffing
      • Safety Gear
        • Lights
        • Reflective Wear
    • Nutrition
      • What your body needs while you run
      • What your body needs after you run
      • What to eat while you are training
    • Training Programs
      • 12-week
      • 10-week
      • 8-week
    • Injury Prevention
      • Stretching
      • Slowly increase speed
      • Slowly increase distance

 

Again, you can really see your book take shape when you do this and it’s probably exciting! You now have a map to overcome writers block before it ever starts.

Before you dive in and start writing there are a few other things you need to do though. The first is have someone else look at your book outline. Ideally it’s someone familiar with the subject or familiar with non-fiction book writing. Have them look at the outline to see if the flow makes sense to them. Do they feel anything is missing or too heavily covered? It’s your book, but another perspective is really important.

Once you feel confident you have the important details covered, identify research, stories, quotes and any other material you need to gather to write your book. Now you can sit down to write! Another day we’ll talk about the secret to finding time to write … but for now, you have one of the most important pieces covered – the topic you need to write about.


Every Book Launchers client works with a professional Writing Coach to help guide them through drafting an outline. The Coach then works side by side with the author to guide the writing, evaluate the content and keep the author on track. If you want to be the one that writes your book and you know you need some help and support, set up a call to tell us about your book. You could be a published author, selling your book and boosting your business in the next nine to twelve months. Service levels start at $399/month.