When writing non-fiction, don't skip or delay these 4 important steps to help you position your book for greater success. Do these before you write, or at least early in the process.
- Share the content—The notion that withholding information until the ‘big day’ when you publish will help make a bigger splash is dead wrong. Look at New York Times bestsellers Julie & Julia, The Four Hour Workweek, and Sh*t My Dad Says, the ideas in these books were blogged or tweeted well before they were bound and published. Sharing your content helps. Don’t hold back. You have nothing to gain by being the world’s best-kept secret. When people ask me, “When should I start promoting my book?” I always answer, “As soon as you commit to the idea.” Promote immediately.
- Develop the Book Idea into a Book Concept—an idea is a spark--a moment of inspiration and excitement. To develop an idea into a concept means you've got clarity about why you are writing the book, who it's for, and what makes it special. If you know these things going in, you will end up with a stronger, more relevant book.
- Choose a Sound Structure that Suits Your Style and Material— Pick one genre and rock it. Books that blend structures and styles are painful to read and hard to distinguish, thus impossible for buyers to find and enjoy. For example, if you write a memoir/how-to, people who enjoy reading memoir will be turned off by the "how-to" interruptions in the narrative, and people who want a "how-to" will be frustrated by all the backstory and wish you would get to the point. While a 'how-to' author should include some brief examples of their own personal experiences to back up their steps, this is not the same as writing an entire memoir as a chosen genre and then inserting little "how-to" steps throughout.
- Create an Outline—Winging it is no way to write a book. In my experience as an editor, I've seen that authors who write without an outline leave out crucial information, yet repeat other tidbits ad nauseam. Especially for experts writing non-fiction, do an outline to plot the flow of information. It’s impossible to teach effectively or make a point when then material is disorganized.
I hope this helps you kick off the new year's writing efforts with ease.