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How to Outline Your Non-Fiction Book

Writing a non-fiction book is about diving into deeper waters. Have a structure in place, and it doesn’t feel scary.  Before you begin writing your dream book, you must start planning it. Structuring is the perfect way to create a foundation for your manuscript. In this article, let’s learn about some steps to develop a beautiful book architecture that inspires you to get going.   

1. Start With The Takeaway 

As a niche influencer, you’re out there to create value for your readers. Every page they read in your book is going to remind them of you. That’s why you want to have them feeling good and replete with knowledge.   So, like for any other content piece, you need to write down the objective of your book. Here are some questions to answer:
  • Who are my ideal readers?
  • What do I want my readers to learn from the book?
  • How will my personality reflect in the text?
  • What should be the dominant writing style?
  • What will be the dominant voice and tone?
Writing down how you wish to convert your book into an experience for your readers will give you an inception point for structuring the manuscript.   

2. Find Your Topics 

Believe it or not, the best writing starts with pondering. Sit down in your garden with a cup of warm tea and start daydreaming. Trust me, that’s a fantastic way to let ideas start plopping.  Use this moment to consider the things you have achieved so far and your primary areas of expertise.  Think of topics you’ll cover in your book and start putting them in your diary. As an expert, you need to cover everything you know. Have a call with your ghostwriter to discuss these topics. A professional writer will come up with interesting angles for each topic you have on your mind. Let’s look at some useful ways to jot down ideas. 
  • Freewrite your ideas in a notebook or use sticky notes.
  • You can use a tool like Evernote or Trello to save your thoughts and access them from anywhere. 
The idea-collection stage is always a non-linear process. In the subsequent stages, you can give the topics a linear and logical flow.

3. Choose a Structure 

Just like in a pottery class where you can choose to create your favorite shapes, from candle holders to coffee mugs, you can structure your book the way you like it.  Let’s now look at some basic structure types that you can use.

The Problem-Solution Approach

This approach lets you start writing the book by presenting a problem to your readers. The next step is to explain the common causes of those challenges.  And lastly, you need to give a concrete solution to the issues you conveyed in the initial few chapters.  A clear advantage of this approach is that it aligns the book with a definite purpose of helping the audience to learn about certain issues and their best antidotes. 

Extracts From The Past, Predictions About The Future 

An interesting way to engage with your readers is to storify the changes that have taken place in your industry over the years.  For instance, certain trends were prevalent in the past, and they don’t exist anymore. And likewise, the things that work in the present won’t stay relevant in the future.  Let’s say you were to write a book in the email marketing niche. You can start with what email marketing was like back in 2005 before explaining what it was like in 2015, and so on.  You can write about your viewpoint about the inherent shifts and also share future predictions. It’s an exciting and unique way to structure your book and offer a host of interesting insights to your readers. 

The Chronicle 

You must have read some non-fiction books that sound bland. Well, it’s hard to write a book in a boring niche and still give the readers the experience of a fable. But it’s not impossible for sure.  As a thought leader, you have the option to share your unique experiences with your target customers.  For instance, you can narrate the story of how you started your journey and what you achieved. Plus, you can talk about your failures and what you learned from them.  In fact, such a story structure works best when writing a memoir, but you can use the format to create a non-fiction book that’s full of examples from real-life events. 

4. Give Your Topics a Logical Order 

When you have a topic list, and you’ve finalized a structure type, it’s time to give your ideas a linear flow. The ideal way is to go with basic topics at the beginning and slowly take your readers to learn about the advanced ones.  Reading through the topics is the best way to help you analyze the best order. Remember to find a valid reason for putting one topic before the other. You can simply follow your gut and find a flow that works.  The next step is to put all the topics into groups so each group will be a separate chapter. For instance, a book about Living a Healthy Lifestyle can have about seven chapters that include six topics each. That means your book would cover a total of 42 topics or subsections.   

5. Be Flexible 

Don’t forget that once you have a book structure, you can always shuffle topics and chapters. Flexibility offers room for creativity and helps improve the flow of your manuscript.

6. Discover an Interesting Title 

Once you have everything in place, you’re in a position to give your book a title. 
  • The title gives you a chance to give your readers a peek into your book. Be as authentic as possible. 
  • Make sure you write a catchy title—words that make it stand out from other thought leaders. 
  • The ideal title is easy to recall and offers a tangible solution to prospective readers. It helps you sell your book to your readers. Plus, it’s something that stays with you alongside your bio. 
It’s essential, therefore, to think through the book title and finalize something that makes you feel proud and excited.

Has Something Been Nudging You?

Structuring your book helps you move from procrastination to actual writing. That’s why a framework is such a vital part of the book writing process. I hope you found this article helpful. If you are planning to write a non-fiction book and need professional help, please feel free to contact me