June 20, 2022 10:22 am


To set you up for success, you need to do a little pre-work before you start writing your book.

Since you're writing your expert book (a book about how you help your clients), you don't need to do any research before you start. Surprised? You shouldn't be - the years you've spent training and actually helping people have taught you all you need to know! If you're not convinced, read this post: "Do you know enough to write a book?"

That said, there are 3 things you need to do before you start:

  1. Get to know your reader
  2. Decide what you want your reader to get from your book
  3. Focus your topic and outline your book

Keep reading to learn more about each step.

Pre-work step 1: Getting to know your reader

Since you're writing a book about how you help people in your business, you should know your reader fairly well. But your ideal client and your ideal reader may not be the same person - it's possible that your ideal reader is earlier in the process than your ideal client.

To figure out who your ideal reader is, you'll need to figure out how you want your book to function in your business - in other words, at what stage in the process of getting to know you do you want your potential future clients to read it?

Once you've figured out in broad terms who your reader is, you'll need to spend some time getting to know them. For help doing that, click the button below to have a look at a post I wrote a while back called "How to write like you talk to your friends".

For most writers, this step will take about an hour. However, if you decide to do market research (surveys, interviews, etc.), it will take longer.

Pre-work step 2: What do you want your reader to get from your book?

This looks like an easy question, but don't be fooled. You need to pick 1 (and only 1) problem that your book will solve for your reader.

For your book to be a success, it needs to be a problem your reader is aware of and wants a solution for.

As you consider what you want your book to do for your reader, do yourself a favour and remember that your book is not the place to for all of your training and years of experience. Instead, it's the place for you to teach one process.

If you're now worried that won't be enough to fill a whole book, stop. By the time you explain why you're teaching "the thing" (i.e. the process/topic you choose), what your experience with "the thing" is, and all the steps for doing "the thing", you'll have plenty of material for a book.

For inexperienced writers working with a coach (or for experienced writers working alone), this step will take 1 to 1.5hrs. For inexperienced writers working alone, it is likely to take a bit longer.

Pre-work step 3: Focus and outline

In this step, you narrow your topic down as much as possible and state it as a statement of argument (US readers call this a thesis statement). I discuss this in step 4 in this blog post: "How do you decide what to write?"

Take your time over writing your statement of argument - it's the single most important sentence in your book!

Once you're happy with your statement of argument, it's time to write your outline. The most useful and writer-friendly form of outlining I've ever seen is the one I teach:

  1. list all the questions your reader might have about your statement of argument
  2. put those questions in a logical order and delete any questions that are repetitive/irrelevant

I discuss this method in "How do you decide what to write?" and in chapter 6 in my book: "Getting Started". Click the button below to buy your copy of There's a Book in Every Expert (that's you!):

If you've done this sort of thing before, or you're working with someone who teaches it, you can probably complete this step in 1 to 2 hours. If you're new to writing statements of argument and outlines, it's likely to take much longer.

Finally, rushing through this step will cost you (in time and frustration) later.

An invitation: Let me help you with your pre-work

Join me for my Think Like an Author workshop. In this 90-minute workshop, I'll help you find the confidence, commitment, and skills (or support) you need to write your book. Click the button below to learn more and sign up!

Other parts in this series

Part 1, Myth of the natural writer

Part 3, Messy Draft (40 hours)

Part 4, Revision, beta readers, editor (25 hours)

About the Author

I help entrepreneurs get their books out of their heads and into print!

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