I received an email from a newsletter subscriber named Paul. He asked:
I have been toying with the idea of publishing some sort of eBook. My problem is staying focused on one topic. I could say I probably have topics and starts of layouts for about a dozen books. Do you have any ideas on how to stay on track?
Thanks for the email, Paul. This is a really valid concern.
1. Decide why you want to publish your book.
Are you looking to establish your credibility in your field? Attract new clients? Fulfill a life-long dream of being a published author? Make extra money?
No answer is the wrong answer! But the answer to WHY you want to publish your will direct how you go forward.
2. Know your thought process.
Do you need to write it all down and get it all out? Or can you make a list of book topics before actually writing a word?5 tips to keep your book on track! #amwriting Click To Tweet
There are people who work both ways. Either way is just fine and use with what works for you. I’m a list creator and usually that works for me. But sometimes, I end up writing everything that comes through my head and then cutting it down to just the main topic and moving all the rest of the writing to different projects.
Personally, I recommend using the Book Idea Workbook to gather and organize your ideas BEFORE you start writing. I use this with all my clients and with my own projects!
3. Find the project’s flow.
You need to have gain clarity on what each book will specifically be about and what flows from one topic to the next. Sometimes you’ll find that what started out as one topic becomes three!
If you try to skip step two, you’ll just frustrate yourself. Give your ideas time to percolate so you can see what works in Project A and what is better in Project B.
When I was working on “Pitch Your Tent: A Family’s Guide to Tent Camping” the original idea had all that AND camping games and songs, crafts, stories, and recipes. Too much! I was laser focused on JUST information for tent camping for beginners and moving everything else into other books.
Don’t forget that when you have more than one book in a subject area, you can always direct readers from one book to the next. I direct readers to my cookbooks from the campfire story books and vice versa.
4. Pick your favorite topic and GO!
In the case of my camping book project(s), I really wasn’t excited by camping games and songs. I’m sure there’s a market for the information. I’m even pretty sure it would be fun to write. But it didn’t fire me up and make me excited.
Now, a few years later, I’m collaborating with someone who DOES know about campfire songs! Very exciting!
I decided to focus on the beginner’s guide to tent camping because that was where my passion was at – and I knew that passion was important to following through on writing a book from idea to published.
5. Cut everything that doesn’t fit.
I recently read a book that had a ton of potential. But the author wasn’t brutal in removing everything that didn’t fit the main premise of the book so the topics jumped around from her childhood to nutrition to relationships to self-esteem. She had so much knowledge to share but it got lost in lack of focus.
Notice I didn’t say DELETE anything that doesn’t fit your main topic! I said cut. Open up a second manuscript and save those sections for another project.
What advice would you give Paul? Leave me (and Paul!) a comment below.