Because you may have already written a lot of your book, the first writing step you should take is to take a fresh look at your hard drive, looking for content just begging to be included in your book!
Existing content takes many forms
To help you locate contents you already wrote, I’ve added a copy of my Existing Content Inventory Worksheet to my Active Garage Resource Page which you can download without registration.
My Existing Content Inventory Worksheet will help you keep track of content like case studies, examples, ideas, opinions, perspectives, procedures, resources, shortcuts, tips, and warnings.
Where to look for ready-to-use content
Look for existing content you can reuse for your book in files originally created for projects like:
- Articles & newsletters
- Blog posts & comments
- Books, e-books, & previous book proposals
- Memos & reports
- New business proposals
- Presentations & speeches
- Press releases
- Teleseminars, webinars
- White papers
As you review your previous client, prospect, and writing files, you may be surprised at the content richness waiting for you.
During your exploration, you might want to search your hard drive for key phrases and words that might take you directly to the content you’re looking for.
What to do after locating existing content
Once you consolidate the titles, relevance, and locations of existing content onto copies of the Existing Content Inventory Worksheet, you can address questions like:
- What type of content is it? Is the content an idea, a process or a technique, a case study, an interesting anecdote, or a tip?
- Where does the content belong in my book? Which chapter?
- How much of the content is useful? Where will it appear within the chapter? Will the content be used as part of the text of your book, or is it more appropriate as a sidebar interview or tip?
- How literally can I reuse the content? Can I simply copy and paste the content, (assuming you have copyright ownership of the content)? Or, do I need to paraphrase the content? Do I need to expand the content? Do I need to verify the accuracy of the content?
- Do I need permissions for quotations? You may not need to obtain permission, for example, if the quote appeared in a published magazine or newspaper article. You might have to get permission, however, if you quoting an individual’s comments in a recorded teleseminar interview you hosted.
In many cases, of course, you may have originally written the content in long-forgotten articles, blog posts, or newsletters.
Of course, if you already knew, or suspected, that you were going to be write your current book, you’d- -hopefully- -have tracked the content using a mind map like the one I prepared for this blog post series (among other free resources).
Writing a book doesn’t have to mean a time-consuming endeavor requiring you to write every word from scratch! If you’ve been active in your field for a long time, you may have already written a lot of your book! Even better, if you used tools like mind mapping to organize your content and track your writing, you may be pleasantly surprised to find how much of your book has already been written.
Roger C. Parker helps business professionals write brand-building, thought-leadership books. He’s written over 30 books, offers writing tools at Published&Profitable, and posts writing tips each weekday. His next book is Title Tweet! 140 Bite-Sized Ideas for Article, Book, and Event Titles.