Nonfiction Book Blueprint; How to Construct Your Book One Layer at a Time

With a project as big and important as writing a book, working from a plan-or blueprint-will make everything easier and more fun. Following a blueprint allows aspiring authors to make their ideas work, just like construction crews use blueprints to build solid and strong buildings. It tells you what needs to go where and helps you compile all the essential pieces of a successful book in a practical and easy-to-follow way that readers will love.

So what should your book blueprint include? Let me break it down for you, one layer at a time.

  1. Commitment As the author, the most important first step you can take to write your book is committing your energy to the project. All the great ideas and writing skills in the world don’t amount to a pile of bricks if you don’t show up to do the work. Self-discipline is a challenge for just about everyone, so I always suggest developing a writing schedule that easily fits into your life. For example, if you can’t think before 10:00 a.m., don’t force yourself to get up at 5:00 to write your book. Creating a writing schedule that forces you to stretch too far is essentially a plan for failure. You have to plan your writing time when it works for you, and then make sure you show up and do it!

  2. A Solid Foundation What book are you going to write? What makes your book unique? If you’re like most aspiring authors, you probably have quite a few ideas about what to include in your book and no idea how to arrange them in a successful way. Successful books help a specific audience reach a specific conclusion. Your book’s foundation answers the following questions: Who are your ideal readers? What solution or new information does your book provide? And what’s in it for the reader? Get crystal clear about your answers to these questions, and then you’re ready to build your book.

  3. A Working Plan With a solid foundation, building your book is easy because you know exactly what you’re trying to accomplish. Then you can organize all your ideas and content to reach that goal. Aspiring authors often ask me if they need to outline their book first, and I’ve found that some people have trouble doing detailed outlines. So I recommend listing the topics, ideas, anecdotes, examples, and anything else you want to include in your book. Then organize that list in the most logical way. It doesn’t have to be a detailed outline, but you should try to organize your ideas in a way that makes sense AND grows naturally out of your already-established foundation.

  4. Strong Writing You don’t have to be Ernest Hemingway to write a successful book, but you do have to know what you’re doing. Many aspiring authors make the mistake of thinking they can write however they want and then hire an editor to clean it up-you can do that, but you’re going to pay a high price for good results. What most writers don’t realize is there are several small things you can do that will dramatically improve your writing. Write in the active voice, for one. And say what you mean in as few words as possible is another. When planning your blueprint, you should know what weaknesses to look for in your own writing and know how to correct them.

  5. Reader-Friendly Focus Writing a successful book means it speaks to your ideal readers- those folks who most desperately need the knowledge and solutions you can provide. So when you actually start writing about all the ideas and topics you laid out in your plan, you must write with your readers in mind. Think about what will get them excited and keep them hooked. Writing is communication, after all, and you need to know how to do it. Therefore your book blueprint should include specific strategies to keep your readers reading.

  6. The Finishing Touches The last piece of your book blueprint is like the fancy trim on a house-it’s the little details that make it unique and totally awesome. Your book blueprint should consider details like title, subheads, exercises, supplements, and other finishing touches that will make your book more user-friendly, more resourceful, and more fun to read. In other words, make sure you include things that will make your book stand out from the crowded shelves.

Any aspiring author can draw up a blueprint for a successful book. And I like to think of a book blueprint as a layered, rather than linear, plan. Each of the six steps I mentioned is a layer because it builds on the steps that came before. And they all work together to make your book successful.

?? Copyright 2009 Melinda Copp
Melinda Copp helps aspiring nonfiction, business, and self-help authors get clear on their story and book idea, and figure out how to put it all together so their ideal readers love it. Visit for a free copy of her “Jump Start Your Book E-course!” and get your book started now.

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