Organizing, Putting Together, and Writing a Non-Fiction Book

A non-fiction book is built, then written. The key to finishing a a course in miracles is having a plan that organizes the steps from start to finish. Learn how this ghostwriter puts a book together.

There are several key components to writing a non-fiction book and you really need a plan. Sure, you can sit down and start typing or writing and just see where things go, but you may find that you get stuck after the first few chapters. You may even be tempted to give up when you find the task overwhelming. I have used this plan to write about twenty books.
1. Decide on a working title. This may change later, but you need a title when referring to the book in any of the preliminary stages. Your title should be short and easy to remember. Include keywords that people might use to search for a book on your subject. The subtitle needs to further explain what the book is about. If someone reads your title and subtitle and still has to ask what the book is about, you need to rethink your titles.
2. Get the domain name for your book title. Get several versions (.com, .net, .org, .info) and purchase domains that have keywords that refer to your book. For example, if your book is titled Super Soccer: Training Young Girls to Play Soccer, you might want these domains: (.net, .org),,,,, and so on. These domains can be forwarded to the site that actually contains your Web content.
3. Write your query letter. Even if you don’t plan to use a conventional publisher, write a query letter anyway. You will need an elevator speech for your book anyway. This concise one-page document that is normally part of the process of asking a publisher to accept your book and offer you a lucrative contract is a great way to get an overview of what your book is going to be about. You can use part of this query as your back cover blurb-a very important part of your book marketing. But mainly this query will bring clarity to the overall scope of the project.
4. Write your book proposal. This requires you to do your marketing research, see what your competition is doing, determine what the book will do for the reader, and outline every chapter that will be in your book. By the time you are finished with the proposal, you will have a clear picture of how your book is going to be organized. All you have to do is flesh it out.
5. Begin to structure your book. Use the chapter outlines from your book proposal to create a skeleton structure of your book. Make chapter headings and bullet point anything you want to cover in that chapter. This is when I assign styles to my headings. This allows me to create a hyperlinked table of contents, which makes it easier to move around in the document once it gets larger.
6. Research the topic more fully, conduct interviews, ask people for stories that will help illustrate your points, and use this information to fill in the bullet points on your outline. Get contributors to sign a release form that gives you permission to use their stories in your book. As you come across experts, contact them and ask if you may send them the part of your book that mentions their topic of expertise and have them critique it.
7. Document your sources as you go! You may not remember where you found certain information a month or so after the fact. If I am using text or a quote, I will copy the URL of the site where I found it and put it in a comment bubble (using MS Word) or as part of the text. I can go back later and get the article title, author’s name, etc. and put it into proper format for the bibliography. If I copy and paste text directly from the Web or an e-book, I will highlight that section in yellow until I can get back to it. The yellow highlight reminds me that I must cite or rewrite this material to avoid plagiarism.
8. Round one edit. You have a rough draft and it is called rough for a reason. It hasn’t been edited. It is jumbled and needs more organization. In your first round of edits, you may move part of one chapter into another place in the book. As you rewrite the copied text, you will begin to see where you need to do more research and flesh out certain weak parts. You may add or remove an entire chapter!

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