Category Archives: Write a book

Outline Your Nonfiction Book Today: A Simple Template

Outline Your Nonfiction Book Today: A Simple Template

Last week I chatted with a friend I haven’t seen in years. Back in the day, we contributed to the same magazine. The last I heard, he was writing a nonfiction book. Of course I asked him how the book went — was he traditionally published, or indie?

“I wish,” he said. “Neither. I gave up on it — it’s a mess.”

He asked me whether I had an outline or a template or something which worked for nonfiction.

Of course I do. I sent it off to him; maybe you’ll find it useful too. It’s beyond simple.

Want to write a nonfiction book? Here you go…

Create an outline. If you hate outlines, I don’t mean the kind of outline that your English teacher harassed you into creating when you were 12.

The kind of outline you need to create is one based on components.

Non-fiction is much easier to write than fiction because nonfiction books contain similar components.

Let’s have a look at some of them:

• A foreword. This is similar to an introduction, but a foreword is usually written by someone other than the author of the book. It helps if you can get someone famous to contribute the foreword. (They’ll expect payment.)

• An introduction. This is optional. If you can’t think of anything to put in an introduction, leave it out. Think of including an introduction if you want to tell your own story: how you came to get the information you’re about to share.

• A “How To Use This Book”page. This can be short, or quite long. For example, if you’re writing a book on yoga, you could use this chapter to give four or five exercise routines, compiled from the various poses that you discuss in the rest of the book.

• Chapters with problems and solutions. If you were writing a book on dieting for example, you could write seven chapters all posing a typical problem, and then provide solutions for each problem.

• The last chapter is the wrap-up. In this chapter you’ll want to give readers instructions on where they go from here, and you’ll also want to include an inspirational message.

• A glossary is useful if it will be necessary for readers new to the subject area. For example, if your ebook contains a lot of jargon with which your reader may be unfamiliar, give explanations of terminology here.

• An index. I’m always disappointed when an otherwise excellent book, that I’ll be referring to again, omits an index. I know creating an index is a hassle, but if you think your readers will use it, then go the extra mile and include it. MS Word makes this simple enough, and so does Apache OpenOffice Writer, which is free.

What you include in your nonfiction book is up to you

It’s your name on the cover, after all. And self-publishing means never having to explain yourself. 🙂

On the other hand, what if you want to go the traditional route, and hunt for a literary agent? In this case, your agent and editor will want input into your book, preferably right from the outline stage.

This can be a challenge. A few months back I worked with an author who hated the changes her editor asked her to make. There’s a simple answer to this: “Don’t make them,” I suggested. “If you think a change is pointless, just say no.”

She’s a new author, so she thinks that her editor is all-seeing, and all-knowing. I pointed out that as the author, she came up with the idea. She had a concept for her book, and knew her audience. It’s perfectly fine to refuse an editorial request. If an editor really wants a change, the editor can make a case for it, and the author might decide to make the change. Or not.

I hope this simple template helps you to write your next nonfiction book — have fun. 🙂

Nonfiction Ebooks Goldmine: Write and Sell Nonfiction Ebooks In 24 Hours Or Less

Nonfiction Ebooks Goldmine: Write and Sell Nonfiction Ebooks In 24 Hours Or Less

$5.99
Author:
Series: Selling Writer Strategies, Book 5
Genre: Writing
You're a writer. You need to make money from your words. What if you could create AND sell a nonfiction book in just a day? More info →
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Map It: For Writing Success — Fiction And Nonfiction Outlines Made Easy

Map It: For Writing Success — Fiction And Nonfiction Outlines Made Easy

eBook: $5.99
I developed the tactics and strategies in this book to help myself. My students have found them essential to producing both fiction and nonfiction almost effortlessly. More info →
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What’s The Best Software To Write A Book?

What’s The Best Software To Write A Book?

For some reason this question’s been coming up frequently: “what software’s the best to write a book?”

The short answer is: whatever you use for your writing sessions now.

Here’s why. Writing a book is challenging, even for people who’ve been at it for years. Learning new software is stressful.

If you want to write a book, keep to your writing routines

You’ll hit “the wall” as anyone does when they write a book. This book crash usually happens around page 100 or Chapter 3. At this stage, you’re looking for reasons to quit.

The book’s crap and you have many, many excuses for not carrying on. The idea’s lousy, you’re too busy, you’ll write next vacation — and so on and so forth.

You don’t need special software to write a book

I adore Scrivener. I’ve been using it for a decade, ever since the beta version. Much as I love it, for the first couple of years I wrote in MS Word, then dragged the docs into Scrivener. Mostly that was because clients and editors wanted Word docs. But also, it was wanting to get stuff done.

You have a writing routine now, even if you’re a relatively new writer. If you tinker with that routine too much, you’ll procrastinate, or worse, you’ll block. Your productivity will go out the window.

Useful software for writing books

After all these years, Scrivener is part of my book-writing routine. My books and writing courses start and end in Scrivener.

I write shorter material like articles and blog posts in Ulysses. Not only is Ulysses a fun writing tool, it also makes it easy to output docs to HTML, PDF, ePub, and DOCX.

Many authors use the Ulysses app (Mac)
Many authors use the Ulysses app (Mac)

I know several authors who write their books in Google Docs. I couldn’t imagine anything more punishing, but kudos to them.

I’ve also heard good things about:

  • yWriter, which looks Scrivener-like;
  • (free) FocusWriter, a cross-platform app which is minimalist. The bare bones interface is meant to remove distractions;
  • (free) LibreOffice, an MS Office alternative;
  • (free) Sigil, open source, cross-platform, and useful only if you’re a little techy. Outputs ePub documents. Inputs can include HTML, and plain text. Creates elegant ebooks. If you’d like to try it, this is the official website.
Step By Step To Fiction Which Sells: Plotting And Scene Magic

Step By Step To Fiction Which Sells: Plotting And Scene Magic

eBook: $5.99
Your readers want to enter your novel's world. They want to experience your book -- they want to live your book with your main characters. More info →
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The Journaling Habit: Achieve Your Goals And Change Your Life In Just Ten Minutes A Day

The Journaling Habit: Achieve Your Goals And Change Your Life In Just Ten Minutes A Day

eBook: $5.99
Do you love your life? If you don't ADORE your life, you can change it — more easily than you can imagine. More info →
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How To Find Motivation To Write A Book: 3 Tips

How To Find Motivation To Write A Book: 3 Tips

“I want to write a book…” I’ve heard those words many times. The writer is motivated, but writing a book takes time, and real life gets in the way, so the motivation doesn’t last.

Suddenly you find that you have no time, because your day job is more demanding. Or something happens at home. You can’t work on your book for a week or two, and gradually you forget all about it. Six months later, you feel guilty because you gave up on your dream.

Change is uncomfortable. Your life changes when you write a book — it starts changing as soon as you start writing.

When you write a book, it takes time and motivation

I discussed how to create a writing habit here. The big benefit of turning writing into a habit is that you no longer need to rely on motivation.

Now let’s look at three tips which will help you to find the motivation to write a book.

1. Give yourself reasons to write: write down the benefits of writing a book

Your motivation is strong when you begin writing. You’re inspired, and words flow. You tell yourself that you can do this, and wonder why you ever imagined that writing was hard. Sooner, rather than later, you hit speed bumps. Then road blocks, and you tell yourself that you will write “tomorrow.”

You can avoid that by creating a list of reasons to write before you start writing.

How will your life change for the better once you’ve published your book?

You list may include benefits like: pride and satisfaction, the money you could make, and the opportunities a published book would bring you.

Writing a list of the benefits is vital. If you try to keep the reasons in your head, you’ll forget them as soon as your dream collides with reality. As we’ve said, your writing brings change. That change affects everything in your life.

Review your list of benefits at least once a week.

2. Drop your expectations: allow yourself to write rubbish

You can’t write a book in a day, or even a week. You have weeks, if not months, of writing ahead. Then, after your first draft is done, you need to do an initial edit of your book yourself, so that you can revise it.

You’ll hire an editor later, but firstly, you need edit it yourself, to make sure that your book achieves what you set out to do. In the heat of creation, all book projects morph.

When writing fiction, you bring in new characters. A main character takes on a life of his own. With nonfiction, you intended writing A, B, and C. After your first draft, you realize that you need to cover D and E as well.

Books are messy.

Important: expect messes while you write.

Please drop your expectations before you start writing. You can fix messes later, but unless you’re a true unicorn author, your writing will never go as expected. Be happy to make messes, and to write “rubbish”. The rubbish helps you to realize what you need to write.

Which brings us to…

3. As long as you’re writing, you’re writing a book correctly

No book you write is the same as another. No matter how many books you’ve written before, each and every book is a new adventure.

Take heart, because as long as you write, and keep going, you’ll finish your book. You’re doing it “right” — all you ned to do is keep writing.

Challenges which seem unsolvable will magically clear themselves up, either tomorrow, or next week, so keep writing. 🙂

Your motivation to write a book develops while you write

I’m usually working on six to eight book projects at any one time; my own, and clients’ projects. Some books are in the outlining stage, others in various drafts, and a couple are in the revision and editing phases.

If nothing else, I know this: motivation happens while you’re writing.

Often, I’ll think about a couple of my projects when I wake up in the morning, and realize that I truly, deeply, do not want to look at them today. I write those projects at their scheduled time anyway, because I know that my motivation will develop while I’m writing.

Yours will too.

Have fun with your books. 🙂

More Heart To Heart: Write Hot-Selling Romance Fiction

More Heart To Heart: Write Hot-Selling Romance Fiction

eBook: $5.99
Author:
Series: Romance Writing, Book 2
Genre: Writing
Tag: writing fiction
I adore writing romance fiction, and now you can write romance too. More info →
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Step By Step To Fiction Which Sells: Plotting And Scene Magic

Step By Step To Fiction Which Sells: Plotting And Scene Magic

eBook: $5.99
Your readers want to enter your novel's world. They want to experience your book -- they want to live your book with your main characters. More info →
Buy from Barnes and Noble Nook
Buy from Scribd
Buy from Kobo
Buy from Apple iBooks
Buy from Amazon Kindle

Resources to build your writing career

Get daily writing news and tips on the blog’s Facebook page.

Need help with your writing? Visit our online store, or check out Angela’s books for writers.