Book Writing Outline

There is a chasm between how novice and expert authors outline and write their book. Now, a lot of people writing a non-fiction book approach their writing like this:

Have an idea, start brainstorming, attack it with gusto, have too much content, rearrange it, hire an editor, editor does a huge review and two rounds of changes, mould a final book, find an angle, write blurb, hope it sells.

I used to be one of those people, so hey, I get it. But then I thought, what if I put some planning and research into those steps… would that help?

Steps in Planning and Writing a Book

Step 1:  Book Research. Find an angle that is a small gap or difference to other books on topic. Ask yourself questions. Determine reader type and purpose of book.

Step 2:  Brainstorm and mind map your topics. 

Step 3:  Outline. In a Google Docs draft, write the outline and summarise each chapter. Decide here on length of book and then length of each chapter. You could also use Scrivener, if rearranging sections and using references. 

If research will be part of your book, start collecting cool ideas and research results. Look at comparative and competitive books and find the gaps. 

Step 4:  Start writing with the research, quotes, and creative ideas, on the topics in each chapter. Be mindful of structure. See if you can add useful reader resources in some of the chapters.

Step 5:  Self-editing. Check chapter lengths. See if the creative content is on par with original reader wants and needs. 

Step 6:  Feedback. Get beta reader feedback and integrate what seems right to you.

Step 7:  Take a fresh look, make it as logical a flow as possible, also check voice is consistent. 

Step 8:  Send to editor for their copy editing work

Step 9:  Integrate the editor’s comments and finalise. Fact check/Copyright check.

Step 10: Typesetting. Send for formatting or do it yourself, if you know about book layout.


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Book Outlining Methods to Help Unscramble Your Brain

Previously I wrote about the steps of outlining and planning, but here I want to discuss my favourite book outlining methods, among other tips. If new to book writing, you may be unaware that structuring an outline can help you step through the writing process without so much stress and strain. I admit to being ‘seat of my pants’ style writer, as I had lots of time to let ideas bubble to the surface. But for most business-oriented writers, a timeline and deadline is needed—and so an outline can help you keep on track... and unscramble your brain. Writing an outline is super-important for ambitious projects with many moving parts. The simple making of a table of contents is a good start, but we are talking more about WRITING TO A MAP. Mind Mapping (bubble chart or the original one-word-per-strand map) is the start of a writing outline process. We may also use AnswerthePublic.com to find reader questions (the faster…

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How to Plan and Write a Nonfiction Book Series

Even though I’ve been writing books for 12 years, a distinct lack of planning has held me back. What about you? Can you discipline yourself to research, plan and write a nonfiction book series?

I’m a non-expert who writes—and self-publishes—how-to books on money, freelancing, and marketing. So, if I can have a minor success in these varying topics, you experts out there can definitely write on your key topics and achieve a lifelong ambition.

When planning, don’t stop at just one book. Plan say a trio on varied angles FOR THE SAME AUDIENCE. The titles don’t have to be set in stone, but it’s good if they follow the same vein… like:

How to Start… or Create your… or XXX Marketing for XXXX Business or Savvy Secrets for…..

merchandise your nonfiction book series
What about Book Series Merchandise? So cool.

Always research thoroughly (using Amazon and Goodreads) on the preferred book title. You don’t want to compete with a bestseller of the same title (but don’t worry about a nondescript one).

Sometimes you learn from the first book that, say, the practical approach doesn’t work and you need to get to the emotional side and write a self-help book. No problem, you can still change tack, as long as you are uncovering your readers’ needs and desires and writing for that.


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TitlePage, ISBNs and MetaData

When you enter the book publishing world as a tiny pebble called an indie author, you cannot fathom the magnitude of the industry. Through experience, one finds that retail Book Distribution deals in Australia go to publishers with a consistency of mass market titles – e.g. 5 a year. (This is sort of by way of osmosis rather than anyone ‘saying’ it).

People like my past client The Simple Doctor (indie author) end up getting rorted. In 2019, a large ‘indie’ book distributor went out of business and all his 2017 book stock was trashed or lost in the process.

Lightning Source’s website say that it deals with 30+ titles publishers, and IngramSpark deal with publishers who have less than 30. (Many have one or two books).

What is TitlePage?

TitlePage is the Australian book industry’s online price data and availability service. Information that is entered into Thorpe’s MyIdentifiers shows up in the TitlePage database, which is then accessed by 3000+ booksellers, suppliers or library buyers a week.

Naturally, book buyers who see the completed and fleshed out listings on there (from TP members) will take more notice and the book has a better a chance of getting ordered.

Bricks and mortar Booksellers always advise Indie self-publishing authors and micro-publishers that if their titles are not on TitlePage their books won’t sell. Whilst not completely accurate, it is none the less sound advice since TitlePage is the preferred service by Resellers to look-up titles for price and availability.

— Australian Publishing Association

To ‘enhance’ your books’ metadata in listings in TitlePage, if you DON’T have a distributor, your indie publishing outfit needs to first join the Australian Publisher Association. This will set you back about $88 – $220 inclusive for a micro publisher, depending on royalty revenue. Then you can register on TitlePage. But wait, there’s more.

Say you have found the wondrous thing of an Indie Distributor. For a Distributor to ‘batch list’ your titles on TitlePage, they need to purchase a minimum listing of 10 for $330. They will pass that cost on to you at whatever rate the distributor decides is fair. (There will be administrative burdens as well).

As micro publisher or self-publisher, you must earn less than $100,000/annum from gross publishing revenue for your distributor to access batch listings on TitlePage. There are some benefits as you can then access sales force help and promotional activities through a distributor–which is why you want one.

This doesn’t get you banner advertising. That is an extra $210 or so.


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Define the Purpose of Writing your Book for Business

There are several problems with taking your expertise to market. The largest one is not dedicating time to it.  While writing a book or program is unwieldy and time-consuming up front, if you've got a big PURPOSE for writing a book for business, boom, motivation problem solved. This could be helping a charity close to your heart or shining the light on a problem that's been a past source of agony for you. Problem: One Offer, Low Revenue Base Independent consultants and coaches need to grow income from more than just services, to diversify some away from their TIME. When someone is sick, their billings stop—and so does their income. Also, it's really hard to sell the business or spin-off assets left and right with one-to-one services.  To create more streams of income, you must offer books, audiobooks, an online training course/s, keynotes or group work, presentation, and if you're game, online memberships or apps. (I don't recommend creating an app). …

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Become a Better Writer Today with These Writing Techniques

The first thing a new book writer does within my world is lean heavily on my editing skills. But unless I have explanatory comments, this is not helpful to their progress because learning key writing techniques must come from other places too. Some learning may come from reading great writing. Some books hit you like a brick with the emotion, while others leave you cold. What are the differences? Read on and find out. Sometimes you'll learn techniques from doing a writer’s centre workshop or course. But there are other ways to learn that cost very little, including audiobooks. (Learn with nil extra time!) The fact is, an audiobook like “Writing Tools” by Roy Peter Clarke will help you consider many different techniques to enhance your writing power. It helped me, and I write non-fiction. Then it’s up to you to try some of these writing tips out on the page. Discover different techniques used in storytelling and speech-making, even if you’re…

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Why You Should Finish Writing a Book #BucketList

There’s only so much time in your life. The other day, I worked out I may have 492 more months to live — if I live till 90. (That’s a big if). This wake-up call means for me: in 2020 I will be focussing on helping 100 authors to write, publish, and lift up their book.

It’s no good just having a daily to-do list. Will that inspire you and others? No! If you want to kick big goals, then you need to set your course for adventure…

If, like me, it comes easily to write, hurrah! You can outline and set about writing your book. But it doesn’t end there.

If writing for career/business expansion, you may need some help with the pitching and marketing steps. (There’s tools and resources for this in the club).

You need to be able to talk about your main messages clearly and to do this, it helps to input a system or methodology into your book. Otherwise it might end up a jumble of ideas — and people don’t need more ideas! Rather, they need simple systems to help their lives.

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What’s the Secret to Making Wealth from Book Publishing?

This is the question I really want to see on Quora and which I will attempt to answer. But what I really see are questions from a smaller mindset, like:

  • If I get my book edited, how do I prevent it being leaked or stolen? (paranoia)
  • How long does it take to get a book deal?
  • How do I write a book and publish it?

It seems nobody asks the real question: what’s the key to making wealth from publishing? When, if they started from that place, I think it would work out better. But why?

We all seem to be conditioned to think of wealth as a grand place for celebrities who ride around in their fast cars, drink champagne from super-yachts, and laze by the pool in their mansions.

The truth for most millionaire publishers couldn’t be more different. Most high net worth individuals become that way by being disciplined, working on a core activity, and smartly investing their savings (their gap). Any old fool can spend more than they earn; it takes grit to say “no” or “maybe later” to yourself when you do have the money to spend.

When we apply this theory to publishing, it still works. Dale Beaumont (Australian) some years ago built a prolific, successful book publishing business by not writing a word. Instead, he and his team compiled interviews from different groups of entrepreneurs or business owners, in a 16-book series: “Secrets of Success Exposed”. 

Each book has the same model of questions but with all different insights. The interviewee tells their stories and the business book publisher masterminds the whole production and marketing system.

Dale had three million-dollar businesses by 30, and now 39, is worth $38 million (while living a balanced lifestyle). He told the Daily Mail UK: “One of those is a publishing company which saw me write and publish 15 books within the space of three years and which helped me to make my first $1 million.” (He also ran 1,260 events for business people and sold business coaching).

So, being prolific and taking massive action without fear lies at the heart of his success. But you can tell from these tips on dealing with rejection, that he has overcome the mental demons we all face, with grace.

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Printed Materials for Book Marketing

While there are postcards, flyers, biz cards and more, there are a couple of print marketing materials I’d recommend you get done when marketing any book. That is:

a bookmark and a roll-up banner (or poster).

While I like designing, I reckon it’s somewhat risky to make your own bookmarks like I did. Still, I was pleased with the result and especially the LARGE bookmark size, printed at our friends PrintLinx Brisbane.

Bookmark (print copy) made with stock photos

Small Bookmark sizes: 55 x 176 mm, 38 x 184 mm

Large Bookmark sizes: 71 x 203 mm

Mine was 71 mm x 203 mm (final size) and cost $35 total for 100 at PrintLinx. I would guess it is 250 gsm.

Some places offer pre-made designs and low rates, like Udesignit.com.au. Their small size costs $38 ex GST and shipping, so about $50 total.

You can Design your own Bookmark at Canva and download their PDF. Not sure about controlling the size though.

You can also design with Publisher and print bookmarks on your own home printer, if has really good ink density.


Bookmark Designs: What to Tell the Designer

When providing a design to a printer, don’t forget to allow for BLEED.

This sounds painful, but it means giving artwork an extra 3 to 5mm all-round and then ensuring the final PDF encapsulates that extra bleed. This is only for designs that have background colour that runs right to the edge and it is because things often shift when printing and trimming.

The best program in which to design bookmarks is Adobe InDesign. MS Publisher would also be okay.

Make sure the PDF is High Print Quality or Press Quality and fonts are embedded. (Also, that your images and fonts are legally procured). Ensure all images used are 300 DPI or above. This can be done by buying stock photos at regular stock photo stores and selecting ‘M’ or ‘L’ size, not small.


We get a small commission if you use this link to buy from 123rf.

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The Process I Used for a Book Launch

It didn’t take long for me to realise my researched and well-crafted books weren’t selling and I needed a launch strategy: only ten years! Don’t let it take you this long…  Here I share my own book launch process and project management style for non-fiction books (indie authors). It takes a bit more work than a written plan, but the fact that it reminds you daily of your tasks is enough impetus for me.  Asana is a Project Management tool, which is a SAAS (so yes, you can pay for more features by the month) and I use the free version. How Did I Set up a Book Launch Plan? First, I used the ‘Project Launch’ template in Asana. But I changed the headings to ‘pre-launch marketing’, 'planning', ‘creative deliverables’, 'monitor results' and ‘post launch’. As I remembered things to do, I added them as tasks and set a date. Another awesome feature is the fact you can add a…

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How to Be Incrementally More Productive Every Day—and Earn More

Recently I noticed that successful people all seem to get up early and work on personal development. This includes knowing their body’s needs and exercising. I realised that just reading the news and gossip online or admiring others was never going to get me anywhere near my own goals.

What are my goals, anyway? Then, while at Kmart (of all places), I saw a book that could start my 2020 off to a bang. I reveal this soon. But first, here is a productivity system you could use.


Learn the 1000% Improvement Method

This is ‘incremental improvement’—getting a little better every day—otherwise known as ‘the Kaizen principle’.

Brian Tracy asks: “Is it possible for you to make a 1/10th of 1% improvement in productivity per day?”

(Doing it weekdays, your actions would be 0.5% more improved within a week and 13% in a month).

This translates to you working on a more important task or doing a task slightly better. (Perhaps a new system occasionally as well, I presume).

Your overall output can become amazing, posits Tracy… in fact, 26% more productive in a year.

Your income would likely go up 26% per year too. This building on improvements is called the Momentum Principle.

You start early, set good priorities, and work a little harder. If you do this improvement as a habit, so every year over the course of ten years, the compounding effect means you will be working at around 1,400% better, according to Tracy.  This then would be reflected in the quality of projects you do and the amount of money you earn.

Here is Brian Tracy’s famous 1000% Improvement list but with my own interpretation. Watch the video afterwards, if you like.


1. Spend your First Hour of the Day on Personal Development

I am spending nearly an hour most mornings on personal development, and then I write out some more on my goals. I do a few stretches. Then if it’s a weekday, I move to writing out my task list.

My present book reading is: Your Dream Life Starts Here by Kristina Karlsson. This is a good book for setting all your goals and taking action.

My audio reading at the moment is:  Booked Solid (Michael Port) and The Power of Vulnerability (Brene Brown).

2. Make a Task List

Then I make a Task List of everything I need to do that day, but not too many.

3.  Prioritise that List

Then I look at the tasks and find the most important to move my business or life forward. I put the two most important things an call it A.

(This I learned from Eat That Frog, also by Brian Tracy).

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Is Writing a Book that’s Popular Being a Sell-out?

Jack Kerouac I know it’s common to think of book writing as some kind of artisan thing, a Jack Kerouac at his writing desk, typing away his creative best. But that just ain’t reality, kid. In the real world, we must find a rising trend and a unique angle for our book. Not only for it to be looked at in the first place, but because if you don’t, you’re really only writing books for you. That’s nice, but it doesn’t pay any bills, even the ones for your book. As a past copywriter, I’m familiar with having to get my commercial brain into gear and research like mad. But I understand that’s not all that common. I sent a K-lytics report on hot niches to a writer friend and he was both awed and confused. Although there is nothing wrong with that. It is extremely difficult to deduce which hot cell or hot niche would match up with your…

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At the Mercy of Gurus—or In Control of your Online Income?

Our inner psychology tells us to be obedient to authority figures, even when obeying leads to our own downfall. Ignore them, be creative, and find new, high-value markets where you can tap into the new gold rush.


The Power of Authority

Our faith in authority figures leads to our falling into money traps. Studies have shown we are strongly inclined to follow the instructions of someone who looks like an expert. We will even substitute our judgement for those with the symbols of authority. Research into obedience to authority shows that we underestimate the extent to which the appearance of authority will influence us. (Social Psychology, 1999).

While the old scientific tests were mainly done with people in doctor’s coats, this influence also applies to political leaders, financial experts, or any authority figure, even celebrities with no financial standing. Do the gurus of internet marketing also come to mind?

So what can we do about it? How do we detach ourselves from this strong influence and work to our own goals?  One way, that I mentioned in my book How to Control Your Financial Destiny, is to forget the herd’s sentiment and make your own decisions contrary to the crowd.

Contrary investing means you would invest when people are most fearful of investing (and thus get the lower prices), and withdraw and seek other markets when the herd is caught up in buying frenzy.

Contrary marketing would thus mean you are creating some unusual types of content, or using unusual mediums, that enriches the lives of others. I write about niche marketing for authors on here a lot.

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