Many of my non-fiction and self-help clients are first-time authors. To them, I say congratulations for taking the first step towards becoming a best-selling author! But the process of writing a book – or hiring a ghostwriter to write it for you – can seem daunting. When you’re staring at a blank sheet of paper or computer screen, where do you start?
I often liken writing a book to building a house. If you take your time and take it step by step, it’s not so scary. And everyone knows that the first step towards building a house is to create a set of plans. You and your architect review your goals, your budget, your dreams for your house, and from there the plan is drawn. The builder then follows the plan.
The plan for a book is the outline. It does not have to be elaborate. It can be one or two pages. It can be a set of bullet points. The goal is for you (the ghostwriting client or author) to describe the key points that you want to make in each chapter. Generally, a nonfiction self-help book will begin by stating the problem, and then you present your solution in a series of steps.
Each chapter should have a defined theme and a target word count (usually between 2,000 and 3,000 words). You just march through the chapters one by one until you’re finished.
Can you change your outline? Of course! Outlines are flexible. You may find that you want to break a long chapter into two, or combine two short chapters into one. You may also want to re-arrange chapters in a different order. (This is why when I ghostwrite a book I often do not number the chapters until the book is completed.)
The outline is the foundation for your book and the road map that you and your ghostwriter will use to get you to your destination.
– Thomas Hauck serves both emerging and established authors with full service ghostwriting and book editing.