After you’ve gone through your old writings and come up with some possible ideas for a book topic, it’s time to start fleshing out the information to see if you’ve really got enough there for an entire book.
Sometimes you come up with a great idea, but it’s really just enough for an article, not a book. Or you have another idea that’s great, but would turn into the Encyclopedia Britannica when published. You don’t want to go there either. Trying to write the be-all, end-all treatise on a topic has felled many dedicated wanna-be authors.
The right topic for your book ends up being like the old Goldilocks fairly tale. The concepts that work for a book are not too small and not too large. They are just right.
To figure out what “just right” is for your book, you go through three steps. Do a big brainstorm session. Then organize that information to see if it’s workable. Finally, flesh out some of the topics, edit out the ones that don’t work, and get clear on who will read the book as well.
- Brainstorm. Once you have gathered some great feedback and ideas from your blogging community, get out a sheet of paper and start brainstorming topic ideas.
- Organize. Once you have brainstormed a few workable topics, start tying them together with more ideas. Some people love mind maps. Other people like simple lists or outlines. Let your creativity flow. If you like using colored markers and a whiteboard, go for it. Or play with sticky notes. Once you start, you’ll find that you can come up with a lot of ideas quickly. (It can even be fun too!)
- Edit. Now go through your ideas and outline with an editor’s eye. Who would read a book on this topic? Why? Be very specific and throw away any ideas or topics that are too broad, too complicated, or too difficult to write about.
I always think of this outlining process as a bit of a puzzle. You have a whole lot of pieces, that need to fit. To create a workable vision for the book, you have to mesh your creative and logical sides.
Remember this outline is just preliminary, so don’t stress out about it. Enjoy the creative process and the prospect of becoming a published author!
Next time in step 3, I’ll talk about market research. Obviously, you don’t want to spend time writing a book that won’t sell, so spend a little time researching the other books in your niche first.
Did you miss a step? Here are links to the Blog Your Book series:
- Ask your community about their biggest problems.
- Brainstorm ideas and use a mind map or outline to organize them.
- Research the competition.
- Refine your topic and search for content you can “recycle.”
- Define your book’s unique selling proposition.
- Set aside writing time and establish deadlines.
- Learn about the book business and decide on a publishing path.