Before starting to write a book to build their personal brand,first-time authors should ask, What kind of a book do I want to write?
Looking for inspiring ideas in existing books can play an important role in a first-time author’s writing and publishing success.
The purpose of looking for inspiration in already-published books is not to copy, but to be inspired by the many possible ways you can organize and present helpful nonfiction information in as engaging and interesting way as possible.
Possibilities are endless
Within the category of nonfiction books, there are dozens of possible ways to organize and present your information. These include:
- Case study
- Personal experiences
- Questions & answers
- Step-by-step procedural, or tutorial
- Strategies, shortcuts, tips
Any of the above can provide a structure, or framework, for the assistance you’re going to offer your ideal readers to help them solve their problems and achieve their goals.
But, it’s up to you to know which format will work best for you!
By knowing where to locate examples of type of book you want to write, you can accelerate your brand building and writing & publishing success.
Searching for inspiration
Think of your search for an inspiring model for your book as a 4-step process:
- Favorites. Start with your own bookcase. Examine your favorite books, regardless of what they’re about. Look for organizing ideas that you like, or look for engagement tools (like questions or graphics), and look for a writing style that impresses you with its clarity, empathy, or personality. Knowing what you like to read is the first step to knowing what you want to write!
- Research. The next step involves research, in person and virtual (i.e., online). Start with your library and examine its offerings in your area of interest. Don’t limit yourself to just the titles on the shelves; inquire about other titles that the library might be able to acquire from inter-library loans. Next, explore the current offerings at your area Barnes & Noble bookstore, as well as the shelves of used book stores in your area. Finally, examine the books available on Amazon.com, paying particular attention to Amazon’s Look Inside! feature which allows you to examine the table of contents and read sample pages.
- Analyze. Take notes as you explore the different types of books in your field, and beyond your field. Pay particular attention to how the contents of a book are divided into sections and chapters, and the way that chapters build upon each other and introduce new topics. Look for details like the way chapters begin and end, the types of examples and graphics used, and the way sidebars (short topics) are used in the page margins.
- Adapt. As you move forward, you’re likely to find similar ideas that you like appearing in more than one book. This is a good clue that you might want to adapt this idea to your book, as either an organizing idea (like a way of dividing your book into sections) or a presentation idea (using subheads or visuals to organize topics within chapters). In either case, you might want to these ideas handy as your book idea begins to come alive.
This is the 15th in a series of questions, ideas, and tips to help first-time authors and business professionals save time writing & self-publishing a book to build your personal brand.
I wrote 99 Questions to Ask Before Starting to Write & Self-Publish a Brand-Building Book help first-time authors clarify goals, analyze their readers, examine competing books, choose a book title, and prepare successful book marketing and post-publication profit plans.
I invite you to download my workbook while it’s still free and put it to work. It asks questions in the order you need to answer them, and provides space to enter your responses. If you have any questions, you can ask them using my online form. You can also review sample responses in earlier posts in this series. Whether you’re a first-time answer or experienced answer, share your experiences and concerns as comments, below.