List the reader needs to meet

After researching your book angle, you will have a good idea about what you

  • could…
  • should…
  • might…
  • will…

put in your book.

Now, it’s time to tighten that up and learn how to plan a great book outline. We’ll start that process by listing the reader’s needs you plan to meet.

There will be an overall high-level reader need. It covers the main purpose of your book. Each chapter should meet a lower-level reader need. Remember, you’re telling them something to give them a useful result in every single chapter in your book too.

If you have time, I recommend you also create one for each major point you plan to include. This means you can always see your information through your typical reader’s eyes and make sure they will find value in it.

This is a simple but effective “insurance policy” to help you write a fantastic book that is a credit to your name.

Why?

You’ve probably been to a party and stood next to someone who droned on and on about what they were interested in. Remember how you felt – bored! frustrated!! and trapped!!! – desperately looking for an opportunity to politely escape that pompous windbag.

The “crashing bore” simply had no interest in what mattered to you, only what mattered to them. The same thing applies to tedious, vanity-project books, only published to boost the author’s ego.

By focusing on meeting your readers’ needs you avoid “crashing bore” syndrome befalling on your book. Instead, you’ll have your readers hanging on your every word, enthralled and eager to learn!

Create your mindmap

With your reader needs defined, you can plan how you will meet them with your take on your subject. This will become your book outline, ready to expand upon. The quickest and easiest way to define your outline is to create a mindmap.

A mindmap is a graphical way to represent ideas and concepts. It’s a visual thinking tool that helps you analyse and structure information. Its power lies in its simplicity. You can create mindmaps for free using a fantastic website, www.mind42.com.

Alternatively, you can use a pen and paper.

  1. start in the middle of a blank page or screen and add your main reader need topic
  2. include the related subtopics around this central theme, in a logical sequence, connecting each of them to the centre with a line
  3. repeat the same process for the subtopics, generating lower-level details as you see fit, connecting them to their parent topic too
  4. analyse your outline’s scope and sequence and check it is logical, complete and meets specific reader needs
  5. make any adjustments as necessary and double-check it is error free

The best thing about using this free website is you can drag, drop, cut, copy and paste your ideas as you refine them. It’s very flexible. When you are happy with it, you can export your mindmap as a document. This document has all the headings you need as placeholders, ready for you to expand on. It’s a brilliant timesaving technique for writing your book. You can export your mindmap in diagram format too, which is a handy reference guide as you write.

Get feedback on outline

To make sure your idea is fit for purpose, you need to get feedback on your book’s mindmap from other people – ideally people in your target market. They are best placed to tell you how well your outline meets their needs. Armed with this information, you can fix any problems with your outline before you expand on it. Show your reviewers your mindmap. Get some feedback on the sequence and scope of your outline

  • is there anything they feel is missing from your outline that needs adding in
  • is there anything that needs removing because it is too basic or perhaps too advanced

Refine outline

Assess your responses and amend your mindmap based on the improvements that need making. This technique is a major timesaver for you, both in the writing and reviewing phases. You’ll avoid mountains of rework. You will save a lot of pain writing irrelevant information, which ultimately needs deleting during the editing phase, as your book is “tightened up” to increase its reader appeal. The feedback check also gives you confidence and the peace of mind that what you’re including your book is

  • of genuine value to your target audience
  • complete
  • worth expanding on

This guarantees you will use your time effectively and create a well-received book, up to your professional standards and worthy of your name on the front cover. It’s important to spend some time getting your outline right. A few hours spent up front perfecting your plan will avoid long days of stress, disappointment, frustration and worry, trying to fix it later on.

Add outline to book template

Once the outline is complete, you need to add that your book template ready for you to expand upon in the writing phase.

See you on the next lesson 🙂

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