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Outline Your Nonfiction Book: A 5-Day Blueprint

I’m a big believer in planning, as you probably already know. I think planning and development are the most underrated aspects of the book writing process.

And the truth is, the book you write could be a million times better if you just did some planning and development first. If you spent some time thinking through the details and trying things out before committing to it or playing around with ideas rather than going with the first one that hits you.

This is true especially with fiction writing, but it’s also true for writing nonfiction.

I plan, develop and outline every single nonfiction book I write BEFORE I write it. I have a tried-and-true process that I use, to not only dig out the details of what needs to be included in the book, but then to refine them into a book that’s worthy of writing (and reading).

I’ve found that process and strategy are missing pieces for most writers. Most writers have ideas–loads of them–but they don’t always have a process for getting those ideas out of their heads and onto the page in a way that makes cohesive sense.

And this is kinda important, because if you can’t get your ideas out of your head and onto the page in a way that’s organized and flows for a reader… they’re not gonna be reading for very long.

Having a repeatable process and strategy for planning, developing, outlining and then writing my books (fiction and nonfiction) has been a game changer for me. Especially with my nonfiction. It has helped me to become 5X more productive with getting books written and published.

And it all starts with an outline.

That’s why I’ve taken the process I use to plan, develop and outline my nonfiction books and turned it into a short workbook that you can use to plan, develop and outline all of your nonfiction books.

>> Grab your copy of the Outline Your Nonfiction Book–the 5-Day Blueprint here 

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What could you write a nonfiction book on? Brainstorm ideas in the comments. 

 

You Have A Nonfiction Book In You: 3 Ways to Pull It Out

Something I believe is that all writers have nonfiction book ideas in them. And maybe you don’t want to write nonfiction or think it’s not for you—that’s totally fine.

But that doesn’t mean you don’t have ideas in you that you could write, if you wanted to.

In the digital age, I believe it’s important for authors to diversify and not just try to make a living from just one thing. I mean, sure, you could if you really wanted to, but why would you want to? 

You’re multi-passionate. You have lots of ideas and things you could be doing to make money from your writing, which would get you to that “make a living from my writing” goal a whole lot faster.

Trying to do it from just one thing, like writing novels, really limits you. It limits your reach, your audience and your potential to share your gifts and change people’s lives.

I believe that even fiction writers have nonfiction books in them. They just have to learn how to pull them out.

Now maybe you’ll decide that you do only want to make your living as a writer from one thing. That’s fine too. Whatever you want and see for your writing life is what you should be doing.

But for those multi-passionate writers who like the idea of diversifying and not having to choose just one thing… here are 3 ways you can come up with nonfiction book ideas:

1. Expertise 

You’re an expert in something. Most likely several things. We all are. It’s just that we’re so good at certain stuff we don’t think about it as something that’s actually valuable.

For example, people tell me all the time that I’m motivational. When it first started happening (way back when I was a kid), I’d brush it off. But people kept saying it. And eventually I realized—I’m an expert in motivating people.

But I never would’ve figured that out if people hadn’t been saying it to me my whole life.

You have something similar going on. There are things that you’re really, really good at. Maybe it’s a hobby you’ve had your whole life. Maybe it’s a natural talent you were born with (like writing). Maybe it’s something you’re not even aware of.

But these expertise that you have could make a great nonfiction book.

Do these exercises to pull ideas out…

> Grab your notebook and make a list of all the things you’re really good at or are an expert at (hobbies, talents, experiences you’ve had, etc).

> Ask your friends and family—what am I really good at? They’ll likely have additional answers for you to add to the list; at the very least they’ll say stuff you already have on there which will just confirm it.

2. Transformations You’ve Made

You’ve had life experiences and have overcome stuff and made transformations in your life. And that is fodder for writing a nonfiction book.

Self-help books are flying off the shelves (virtually and in book stores) because people have an innate need to learn and grow and become better. We’re always looking to improve ourselves or get better at something or learn how to do something.

So you can turn the transformations you’ve made into nonfiction books.

For example, I used to be the BIGGEST procrastinating writer in the world. It’s true. My first blog was called Procrastinating Writers for that reason. But I overcame that. I made a massive transformation and now I push everything else off and out of the way to make daily space for doing my writing. It’s now a non-negotiable for me.

That’s a big transformation—and one that a lot of writers would like to make themselves. Perfect topic for a nonfiction book (and I’ve written several).

An exercise… 

> Grab your notebook and brainstorm on the transformations you’ve made in your life—what results did you want that you didn’t have and how did you finally get there and achieve those results? what have you overcome and come out stronger on the other side? Write it all down.

3. A Unique Angle—On A Topic Or On A Book That’s Already Out There

One of the easiest ways to find nonfiction book ideas is to come up with a unique angle on a topic—or even another book—that’s already out there. If it’s already out there, that means there’s a demand for it.

For example, if you’re an expert in how to create your own recipes, you could go out there and look for books that relate to this topic… and maybe you’d find a bunch of books that help people write recipes for personal use. But maybe no one’s done a book on how to write recipes for a cookbook. Or how to write recipes for commercial use. Or how to write recipes when you’re a caterer.

That could be your unique angle that you use to write a nonfiction book.

Another example… like a decade+ ago a book came out called, He’s Just Not That Into You. It was all the rage with women who were so happy to finally have a better understanding of men and how they think and why they behave like they do.

Soon after another book came out… Be Honest—You’re Not That Into Him Either. This book was a riff on the other book and was written to help women raise their standards and stop dating or going after men who are like the men described in the other book.

Is there a book out there that you could write a riff on?

Some exercises…

> Grab your notebook and make a list of topics you could write a nonfiction book about—then think about different angles you could take on that same topic. Brainstorm as many ideas as you can.

> Go to the bookstore (or on Amazon, but the bookstore is a fun excuse to grab a coffee and wander through the stacks) and look at what books are selling right now—could you write a riff off of one of those books and add another perspective to the discussion. Grab your notebook and brainstorm book riff ideas that you could write.

I hope you can see now that you DO have nonfiction book ideas in you—you just have to know how to pull them out. Complete the exercises and if something sparks your interest and pulls at you to write it… DO IT!

 

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What’s one nonfiction eBook that you could write from all of the ideas you brainstormed? Share in the comments.

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 And if you find an idea that you just LOVE and want to get written and published NOW, my upcoming workshop: Write and Publish Your Nonfiction eBook in 10 Days, will help you make it happen!! This is an action-taking workshop that will light a fire under your ass to get that nonfiction eBook written and published, so you can grow and expand your readership, change people’s lives, and make money in the process. 

We kick things off on March 13 and doors open to the public on Monday March 6 at 1 PM EST. Get on my email list to be the first to know when the doors open… and you’ll also get a free copy of my eBook–The Bestselling Author Mindset Formula: How To Think Your Way to #1.

Magic Happens When You Do This

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately about what, specifically, has made my mission of writing and publishing 9 books in 2016 actually happen. And what I mean by that is, what has caused me to actually be able to keep up with it? To have already written and published three books and to be working on books four and five right now?

And when I really think about it, there’s one thing that stands out: shortening the timeline.

Usually when you’re writing and publishing a book, you give yourself six months to a year to get it done (sometimes more!). But when you only give yourself 30 days (sometimes 31), it changes everything.

Because now you don’t have time to mess around. You don’t have time to procrastinate or doubt yourself or not do the work. If you want to get the book written and published in 30 days, you’ve gotta get to work immediately. 

There’s no time to waste. No time to slack off. No time to avoid doing the work.

At least, not if you actually plan on getting the book done in that timeframe.

There’s something kind of magical about shortening the timeframe that much. Because it really forces you to focus, to stick with it and to make consistent progress.

Of course, this all depends on how committed you are. But the truth is, when you’re totally 150 percent committed, you’ll make it happen. And the amount of time will never be an issue again.

This month, I wrote and published my new eBook in 5 days. I have a good friend who wrote and published her Amazon best selling novel in only 3 days. One of my other good friends just wrote and published her debut eBook in 10 days.

The amount of time you commit isn’t what matters. It’s the commitment to doing the work and making it happen that matters.

And when you’ve got that commitment in place, you can make pretty much anything happen in any amount of time.

That’s the main reason why I’m loving this 9-book challenge I’ve given myself this year. It has gotten me out of my head and into action. And there’s no other option, because if you get stuck in your head–which is what happens to most writers–you’ll never make it happen. 

At least not in 30 days.

So what does it really take to get a book written and published that quickly? Here’s what it takes for me:

  • A good book idea–you need something that’s worth writing and that you’re passionate about, otherwise it will be easy to quit.
  •  Having a fast-turnaround editor on board–I believe in professional self-publishing, so even with this short timeframe I still wouldn’t publish without someone editing the book for me first. So I have an editor who is totally on board with my crazy mission this year, and she’s willing to do a fast-turnaround for me on the edits so I can get the books out in 30 days.
  • The willingness to let everything else go–I’ve had to give up social time, spend a lot of Friday and Saturday nights home with my MacBook, get up really early and stay up really late, in order to get these books done in the short timeframe. That’s just part of it. If you want to accomplish anything, you’re gonna have to be so committed to the outcome you desire that everything else can fall by the wayside if need be.
  • Being good at designing covers–I’ve been designing all of my own book covers this year, because I’ve taken design classes and have always been interested in cover design. But this isn’t gonna be the case for most writers. And you don’t want to end up with a shitty cover. So if you can’t design it yourself and make it look pro, you’ve gotta have a cover designer on board, ready to help, or be willing to buy a pre-designed cover that’s ready to go.
  • Kick negative voices and self-doubt to the curb–this is a must. If you don’t do this, you will get stopped at every turn. And with a 30-day turnaround, you don’t have time for that. You must get rid of the “noise.” I like to do this by writing my reality, setting intentions and visualizing the end result.

This whole write-and-publish-a-book-in-30-days thing is not for the faint-hearted. It takes major guts.

But it’s totally possible, when you get out of your own way.

It’s even possible for you to write and publish it faster than that, if you wanted to. Like I said, I wrote and published my most recent book in 5 days (and it became a #1 best seller on Amazon, and is currently at #1 right now in 3 categories!). 

It’s not about the timeframe. You can write and publish a book in pretty much any timeframe if you set your mind to it.

And that’s really what it comes down to: setting your mind to it. Making the decision that you’re gonna make it happen, no matter what.

Now before I continue on, I just want to add: I don’t recommend that short of a timeframe for a novel. Most writers cannot successfully write and publish a novel in that short amount of time and actually do a good job (and please don’t even get me started on the writers who write 50,000 words during NaNoWriMo and then publish it without even thinking twice about it, UGH!).

BUT–if you’re writing nonfiction–30 days, 10 days, 5 days, 3 days, whatever–is enough time to write and publish your book. So long as you can get an editor on board to make sure there aren’t any massive errors before you hit “publish” (there’s no excuse for not professionally self-publishing your books).

I’m living proof of what’s possible when you shut up, drop the excuses, get out of your own way, set your mind to something and commit to doing the work.

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How long did it take you to get your nonfiction eBook written and published?

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