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Book Writing for Non-fiction – Part 1

Write

This is our first post in our “How To” series, and focuses on the first stages of writing your non-fiction title.

Once you’ve decided to write your book, and after the initial brain storm phase, you will want to start focusing on how to structure your book. For a longer title, you will want to break your content down into chapters, but this tutorial will cover the initial stages of your book writing journey. Dividing your book’s content this way will help, not only with breaking down your writing into manageable chunks, but also will help when your book is transferred to electronic formats. For a shorter eBook or leaflet, it could be you break your book down into individual pages of content.

Planning and writing your first four sections

Preface

  • What is your experience in this field? – If you are writing in an area of new expertise, or if you feel the subject may impact negatively on your profession, you may choose to leave this section out.
  • What led to you writing this book?

Introduction

  • What is your book about? – summarise what you are going to say.
  • Who will find you book interesting and useful? – set out your audience and tone of writing.
  • What is your book going to say that no other title does? – why would someone buy THIS book?

Chapter 1: Getting Started

  • What is the starting position of your most basic reader?
  • Where do they need to get to to start using the book? – it could be your book is aimed at an advanced level, but you need to establish a common starting ground. Are there particular skills they need, additional material to cover a subject more in depth?
  • Step by step guide how to get there.

Chapter 2: First steps

  • What journey are you going to take the reader on?
  • How do they start implementing the first part of your “arc”?
  • What benefits will they see?
  • What help will they need to achieve this first step?

These questions will help you to form the content for your first four sections as well as establishing a “voice” for the book. Next you will need to consider additional content you may wish to include – images, charts, links to web content are all best considered at this early stage. Another key point for consideration is if you will be including snippets of information, highlighting key points or having some sort of interactive layout/worksheets.

Now you have a framework for your content, time to start fleshing it out into the book it will be. Consider bulleted and numbered lists – especially in the “Getting Started” section. It could be equipment lists or a brief overview of the points you are going to cover in the section. Could an image express an idea better than words alone? If you need prior knowledge to understand a point, where would you go to? And later on in the book, if you wanted to find out more on a discussed topic where would you go to?

In Part 2 – Setting up your manuscript

In developing the points above, you will want to start to prepare a draft manuscript. This will include chapter headings, key points, image references and at this stage you may have quotes and other relevant references you may wish to include. This will still be a long way before you are ready to hand us your manuscript. In our next How To, we discuss how your manuscript will develop from a skeleton script through to a workable manuscript. This will setup good habits ready for the next chapters of your book in Part 3.

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