Posts Tagged ‘chapters’

Before you can write your book, you need to create a content plan for your book. Mind mapping makes it easy to identify and organize your ideas.

Mind mapping software, see directory here, allows you to work visually. Ideas are displayed as clouds, or topics, organized around the main topic. The main topic can be the title of a book, a newsletter editorial calendar, or a quarterly marketing plan.

When creating the content plan for #Book Title Tweet: 140 Bite-Sized Ideas for Creating Compelling Titles for Articles, Books, and Events, I followed the same 3-step process I always use when starting a new book:

  • Step 1: Sections. I identify the main sections of the book.
  • Step 2: Chapters. Next, I list the chapters and main ideas with each section.
  • Step 3: Export. When finished, I export the mind map to Microsoft Word.

This approach is extremely efficient. It eliminates duplicate typing. The mind map I use to plan my book and share with potential literary agents or publishers is also used to create a formal book proposal and prepare the manuscript for publication.

Step 1: Sections

Figure 1

Figure 1, created with Mindjet’s MindManager, shows what my project looked like less than two hours after I started work. If memory serves, it took me about 30 minutes to identify the major sections of the book, and another hour, or so, to fine-tune the section titles and their order.

At this point, my intention to write a book about book titles has already begun to take shape. There hasn’t really been much “stress,” and I’ve rather enjoyed the process of dragging and dropping sections into the correct order. And, I actually left the office early, after sharing copies of the map with a few key individuals.

Step 2: Chapters

Figure 2

My next step was to begin to populate the map with the next level of information, chapters.

In the case of the THINKaha book series edited by Rajesh Setty’s, the “chapters” consist of Tweets, or 140-character, ideas and examples. Accordingly, I began to write the book in MindManager, as shown in Figure 2.

A couple of things to notice:

  • Automatic numbering. MindManager, like many other mind mapping software programs, can automatically number each subtopic. This made it easy for me to track my progress and include the right number of points.
  • Keeping track of characters. Note the numbers in the call-outs. After I developed each idea and provided an example, I copied and pasted the text into Microsoft Word. I could then use Word’s Tools, WordCount feature to see how many characters I used (or had to edit to fit the 140-character limit. This quickly became a pleasurable game.
  • Notes feature. I used MindManager’s Notes feature if I had any additional ideas, such as alternative examples, for each entry.

You may have noticed that the subtitle in the mind map has been changed to “140 Bite-Sized Ideas for Compelling Titles for Articles, Books, and Events.” Change during the course of writing and editing a book is a normal, and healthy, sign of progress. Change is a positive byproduct of the collaborations and conversations between authors and publishers.

Step 3: Export to Word

When I was through, I exported my mind map to Microsoft Word, and was able to view the book from my readers’ perspective.

My initial manuscript editing was relatively easy, since, from the beginning, I was able to visually preview the order (or context) of each 140-character topic. As a result, there were no unpleasant surprises along the way.

Likewise, since my mind mapped plan was on target, there were minimum editorial queries or problem areas to adjust. The experience reminded me of what Jack Hart, veteran writing coach, had written in his A Writer’s Coach: The Complete Guide to Writing Strategies that Work and had emphasized when I interviewed him: Writing problems are usually the result of planning problems.

Only, in this case, starting out with a strong plan, writing (i.e., choosing the right words to communicate my ideas) was easy.

Conclusion

Good content plans create good books. Use the right tools to convert your intention to write a book into a framework you can use to sell, test-market, and write your book. The sooner you create your book’s content plan, and the more thought and care you put into it, the easier it will be to sell your book to the right publisher and finish your manuscript on time. What’s your favorite tool for creating content plans? Share your ideas, comments, and questions, below, as comments.

Author’s Journey #3 – What should you write about?

by Roger Parker on January 7, 2010

Roger-Step1-Plan“Write what you know!” is a frequently heard statement.

So is, “Write about your passion!”

Yet, is that all there is to writing a successful brand-building book?

In this Author Journey segment, I’d like to share a simple, 3-step process for taking your choice of book topic to the next level. Because, no matter how much you love the topic you’re writing about, it’s your market that ultimately determines your book’s success…as well as the client relationships and profits that your book generates for your business or your employer.

So, I encourage you to look beyond your interest in your topic, and examine your ideal reader’s desired change.

Change and nonfiction book success

The starting point to planning a successful book, one that builds your brand and drives traffic to your business, is to identify the change that your market desires.

Going back to the basics, readers purchase fiction and historical nonfiction books, like David McCullough’s The Great Bridge: The Epic Story of Building the Brooklyn Bridge, for entertainment. These books are discretionary purchases; they are wanted because the subject matter or the author’s style will provide pleasure while reading.

Readers buy nonfiction books, like self-help, career success, marketing, or business leadership, however, to solve problems and achieve goals. To the extent that the problem, or unachieved goal, causes pain, costs money, or wastes time, books that address these books become necessities–and can be outstandingly successful.

If you can’t figure out how to get on Facebook.com, for example, or no one is following you on Twitter.com–or your department is experiencing unusually high employee turnover–books that address these issues are relatively recession-proof. These books become necessities rather than luxuries. The higher the pain, or lost opportunity costs, the more urgently readers will want your book.
Reader-Change-Planner

How to profit from your ideal reader’s desire for change

In order to enjoy the greatest rewards from writing and publishing a book, you have to go through a  simple process, as shown in the Reader Change Planner example shown at left.

The Reader Change Planner guides you through a simple 4-step process. These steps include:

  1. Select your most desired readers, the market segment you most want to attract to your business. (I discussed how to do this was described in Author Journey #2).
  2. Review the characteristics of your most desired readers. This will ensure that your marketing message will align with their attitudes and communication style.
  3. Identify your desired reader’s problems and unachieved goals. Ask the popular, but appropriate, saying goes, What’s keeping them awake at night? The more you can identify your desired market’s hot-buttons, the easier it will be to write the book they want to buy and read.
  4. Create a process, or step-by-step plan. Identify the steps that readers can follow solving their problems or achieving their goals. Provide them with a book that serves the same function as an instruction sheet or Mapquest driving instructions.

Coming up with a logical process, or sequence of actions, is the key step in choosing the right contents for a nonfiction book. It’s the step that will convert your vague yearning to write a book into a reader-pleasing content plan that will guide you as you write your book. It’s also the step that makes your book magnetically desirable to readers.

The importance of a process

Process is the key word. Process sends all the right messages. Process builds your prospective reader’s confidence in your book. Process implies knowledge and organization. Process eliminates uncertainty; it projects certainty.

Finally, process simplifies the apparent effort involved in obtaining change. Process breaks big projects into an organized series of smaller, more doable, tasks.

If I tell you, for example, that writing a book involves 47 (hypothetical) tasks, you’re going to think, That’s a lot of work!

But, on the other hand, if I tell you that writing a book involves 4 steps, Planning, Writing, Promoting, & Profiting, the process immediately appears a bit more feasible.

Taking action with sections & chapters

What works for you in the above 4-steps to Writing Success example will work for your intended readers, too.

Begin thinking in terms of the major steps that have to be accomplished in order for your readers to solve their problems or accomplish their goals. Your 3, 4, 5, or 7 steps will become the sections of your book.

Each of these sections will contain 2 or 3, or however many are needed, chapters. Each chapter will correspond to the major tasks needed to solve your reader’s problems or accomplish their goals.

By following the 4-step program described above, you’ll not only end-up writing a more useful and desirable book, but you’ll also find it easier to figure out what you should write about!

In the next Author Journey installment, we’ll address the importance of analyzing existing books in your field and using them as a guide to positioning your book relative to its competition.

Offer

If the idea of a Reader Change Worksheet appeals to you, drop me an e-mail at Roger@Publishedandprofitable.com. I’ll send the first 10 who respond a PDF copy of the Reader Identification Worksheet shown above. (Please mention Reader Change Planner in the subject line. Thank you.)