Design plays a major role in book sales. Even when a professional cover designer is hired to create the front cover, there are dozens of projects that nonfiction authors can use to promote their book. Examples include newsletters, event sales sheets, speaking, calendars of upcoming events, and coupons.6 Easy Ways to Organize Your Nonfiction book for Easier Writing and Higher Sales by Roger C. Parker

Efficiency plays a major role in planning and writing your book. The sooner you know how many sections and chapters ae needed to fulfill the promise in your book’s title, the easier it will be to write, edit, and submit your manuscript to your publisher or the individual involved producing files for your self-published book.

In a similar way, knowing your book’s structure as soon as possible efficiently focuses your thinking on the topics you want discuss in your book and the topics you want to save for another book. A visit to a local bookstore reveals that many nonfiction authors have written “How to” books organized by the steps recommended for planning a project or making appropriate decisions.

From personal experience, I know that how a book is organized plays a major role in whether or not I purchase it. Chapters that are logically grouped into sections is visible evidence that the author is not only familiar with the topic, but has created an easy to follow story.

  1. How Design Makes Us Think, a recently published book by Sean Adams is an example. Instead of a compendium of graphic tools focusing with examples, How Design Makes Us Think focuses on eighteen emotional responses that design can create accompanied by appropriate examples that have generated. The list of desired emotional responses includes Efficiency, Humor, Anger, and Honesty. Each of the examples is accompanied by a paragraph highlighting the way color and other techniques were used.

Another book with a strong, multi-tiered organization is Cath Caldwell’s, Graphic Design for Everyone (mentioned in last month’s post). The hierarchy is as follows:

  • Understanding Your (band section from Graphic Design for Everyone)
  • You and Your Audience (1 or typical paragraphs)
  • Define Your Project Aims
  • Analyze your style—and Your Competence
  • Map the Market and Plot Your position (total 47 chapters)
  1. Completion time. Julia Cameron’s career recently added a 41th book to her Artist’s Way Program. Her latest book is Write for Life: Creative Tools for Every Writer outlining a six-week plan for writing success based on a chapter a week. Completion time is just one of the many popular ways to break large projects into a series of easily completed tasks. It’s been used for topics relating to do-it-yourself auto repairs, home repairs and renovations, to boosting and your child’s performance on standard tests. And you’re probably aware of “Write Your Book in 90 Days, 30 Days, or 7 Days.”.
  2. Interviews. Although many nonfiction books include transcripts of conversations that took place during an event, relatively few books consist entirely of interviews of participants involved. Or If you’re a podcaster, consider creating a book organized according to the months of the year, interview topics, or individuals with contrasting opinions. You can convert a podcast or newsletter topic as is or edit for impact and relevance. Interview compilations are extremely efficient. After selecting the interview guests, your writing task consists of preparing an introductory chapter and  one or two paragraphs introducing each guest and the importance of each chapter.
  3. Regions. Cookbooks offer another high-visibility way to organize your book. There are cookbook books for broad regions, like New England, as well as specific states. Again, like interviews, selecting or creating the recipes and short paragraphs introducing each paragraph require far less writing than books with broader themes.
  4. Situations. Situations refers to books relating to high-interest topics like dating, dieting, and books which focus on living with life-threatening illnesses—or dealing with individuals needing home care. Other situation books include the many shelves sharing dating tips, divorce, erasing bankruptcy, and weight loss.
  5. Alphabet books. Think of these books as grown-up versions of the first book you probably received at the pre-school level. Alphabet books are organized around the letters of the alphabet. The concept can be simple, but the writing can be as good as books three times the price.

Closing Thoughts  

Don’t be too literal with your choices. If you don’t have an entry for letters like Q and Z, simply omit them. Readers will understand and there won’t be picketing on your front porch.

Use the index of the leading books in the field to locate important words relevant to your topic.

After your book comes out, adapt it to use online and in print. Feature the letter by including a “Letter of the Week” with a 2 or 3 line introduction. Run a new letter every two weeks. Use the letter of the week to build your newsletters circulation.

Author Bio:

Let Roger C. Parker help you create a content-driven nonfiction book that will set you and your ideas apart. Roger’s first book, Looking Good in Print, played an important role in the popularity of desktop publishing and the creation of new careers for individuals throughout the world. His later books, include Desktop Publishing and Design for Dummies and the original Microsoft Office 97 for Windows 7 for Dummies. Call 603-866-6046 or email for an experienced, fresh perspective. I’ll also send you a PDF of sample left-hand and right-hand pages.

If you like this blog post, you’ll love this book: The Nonfiction Book Publishing Plan by Nonfiction Authors Association CEO Stephanie Chandler!