The minimum length for a book is usually considered to be about 30,000 words. Sounds a bit daunting, right? Not if you have a plan in place before you start. In my previous article, I showed you how to find the right idea for your book for your Small Business. In this instalment, we’re going to look at how to develop the content around your idea.
My goal is …
The first step is to write your topic down in a clear, unambiguous statement. For example, when writing my book, mine was:
My goal is to help motivated small business owners self-publish a professional-quality book to promote themselves and their business.
This statement is your starting point, and it’s very important to get this right, because in everything else you do to develop your ideas you are going to refer back to this to see if what you’re doing meets your goal.
It needs to cover what you are going to write about and who you are writing for. So, put some thought into it! (If you’ve read my previous article, you should be able to do this quite easily.)
The next step is to write down the eight or ten most important topics your readers need to know about. This will form the backbone for your book, with each of these topics becoming a chapter. Organise these topics into a logical order. You may already have a process in your business that makes this simple; for example, my book is based on our seven-step self-publishing process, so each of the steps became a topic for the book.
Next, repeat this process for each chapter; that is, come up with eight to ten topics that fit into that chapter, and organise these too into a logical order.
Next, have a think about what else you can add to your book. The possibilities include:
- diagrams and tables
- case studies
- hints and tips
- chapter summaries
- photographs or other images
- appendices containing additional useful information.
Try to spread such additional content evenly throughout the book.
Topping and tailing
You’ll need an introduction and conclusion too, so map out some content for these. It’s often a great idea to actually write both the introduction and conclusion last, as then you’ll know what you’re introducing and concluding!
Breaking it down
Let’s say you’ve come up with eight chapter ideas, and an average of eight subheadings for each chapter. You now have 64 small topics to write about. Now how’s that 30,000 words looking? If we allow 1000 words for an introduction and 1000 for a conclusion, that leaves you with: 28,000 ÷ 64 = 437 words per topic.
One page in your word-processing software will usually be about 500 words. And let’s say you can write two pages a day (not too hard, right?). You now have a plan that will allow you to write your book in a month. And even if you’re a bit slower, at one page a day that still means you’ll have a book in two months.
That 30,000 words doesn’t look so daunting now, does it?
Shakespeare it ain’t
Here’s the most important tip: you’re only aiming for a first draft at this point. The most important thing is to get at least 30,000 words down. You then need an editor to help you turn it into poetry, or … at least something that makes sense. So, burn this into your brain: 30,000 words that need more work is much closer to a finished book than 5,000 beautifully crafted words. Why? Because bottom drawers the world over are filled with 5,000 beautifully crafted words that never went any further because the author ran out of mojo. And that’s not going to help your business at all.
Tune in for part 3 in a few weeks: my top tips for knuckling down and getting it done.