The Revolutionaries Playbook

Hot Tips for Outlining Your Non-Fiction Book

Many people want to share their knowledge with the world—which is great—but if you want to foster audience engagement, what you share has to be relevant to their problems.

Which is why I highly recommend outlining your non-fiction book before you start writing.

Now to be clear before you go any further, I’m not talking about memoirs, which share your life story. Those books have an entirely different structure and tactics for outlining. If you’re looking for tips on how to structure a memoir, scroll away now.

I’m talking about non-fiction business and self-help books that are meant to teach someone a new skill they want to learn. These books most often help you gain clients, speaking engagements, and a wider audience. They set you up as an authority on a specific topic.

Your outline will serve as a roadmap for how you’ll lay out this topic in a highly relevant and valuable way for your target audience.

When you write without this in mind, you have a tendency to try to try and jam anything and everything you know into the book. Which isn’t relevant, or helpful, to your target audience.

Start With The Problem

The entirety of your book should be based around solving a problem for your target audience. Think of “Atomic Habits” by James Clear or “How To Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie.

These books, and other best selling non-fiction business and self-help books are timeless because they solve a problem.

Here are a few steps I take to create highly relevant attention grabbing book before I ever begin to “write”:

    • List problems of your ideal customer: What challenges or problems are they grappling with? What keeps them up at night?
    • List the consequences of these problems in their life: How do these problems impact their day-to-day life? What are the real-life implications of not solving these problems?
    • List the solutions you offer to help solve the problem: What are the actionable steps, tools, strategies, or insights that you can offer to help them overcome their challenges?
    • List how the solution will improve their lives: How will their life be different, better, or improved once they apply your solutions?

Then use this information to inform your outline.

Create an Audience Focused Book Outline

1. Draft Chapter Topics:

The first step in outlining is to determine the main topics or areas you want to address in your book. This is where answering those initial questions about your ideal customer’s problems and solutions comes into play. Each major issue they face and its solution can become a chapter.

    • Brainstorming: After listing out the problems and solutions, brainstorm potential chapter titles. These should be engaging but clear, so the reader knows what to expect.
    • Grouping: You might find that some problems are related or can be addressed together. In such cases, you can group them under a single chapter title.
    • Ordering: Once you have a list of potential chapter titles, arrange them in a logical order. This could be from basic to advanced, chronologically, or in order of importance.

2. Deep Dive with Subsections:

Subsections help further organize the content within each chapter. They break down the broader topic into manageable chunks, ensuring comprehensive coverage and helping the reader navigate and understand better.

    • Identify Key Themes: Within the broader topic of the chapter, identify 3-4 main themes or ideas you need to cover.
    • Clarify Purpose: Ensure each subsection has a clear purpose and isn’t redundant. It should introduce a new aspect or angle related to the chapter’s main topic.
    • Use Descriptive Subheaders: Make sure your subsections have descriptive titles or subheaders. This will make it easier for readers to skim the content and dive deeper into the areas they’re most interested in.

3. Bullet Out the Details:

This is where you really drill down into the nitty-gritty of your content. By identifying key points, anecdotes, or case studies in advance, you give yourself a clear roadmap for writing.

    • List Key Points: Start by jotting down the primary pieces of information or key takeaways for each subsection. What are the most critical points your reader should remember?
    • Include Anecdotes: Personal stories or experiences can make your content more relatable. Think of relevant anecdotes that can illustrate the points you’re making.
    • Incorporate Case Studies: If applicable, include real-life examples or case studies that showcase the effectiveness of a solution or strategy. This provides credibility and tangible evidence for your claims.
    • Research Highlights: If there are statistics, studies, or expert quotes that reinforce your points, note them down. They can add weight to your arguments and provide a more in-depth understanding.

By the end of this process, you’ll have a robust and detailed outline that not only organizes your thoughts but also ensures that you address your readers’ primary concerns and provide them with actionable solutions. The actual writing becomes a matter of expanding on your bullet points, weaving them together cohesively, and presenting them in an engaging manner.

It’s tempting to include everything you know on a topic, but your readers are looking for solutions to specific problems. By filtering your content to only include information that helps address the central problem, you create a book that’s not only informative but incredibly valuable.

We hope this helps!

Need Help Writing Your Book?

Outlining is only the beginning, writing is a whole new challenge. At Alliance Ghostwriting we help rebellious leaders establish authority with audience captivating books.

We’ll handle the writing while you break the mold. Contact us to get started!

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