Indie Author Weekly

058: How to structure your non-fiction book (4 tips)

May 05, 2020 Sagan Morrow Episode 59
Indie Author Weekly
058: How to structure your non-fiction book (4 tips)
Chapters
Indie Author Weekly
058: How to structure your non-fiction book (4 tips)
May 05, 2020 Episode 59
Sagan Morrow

Welcome back to Indie Author Weekly, where I share my behind-the-scenes journey of writing and self-publishing books. 

If you’re new to this podcast, I am a productivity strategist for multi-passionate creatives at SaganMorrow.com: I help people manage their time and energy effectively, through customized, actionable strategies that work for your unique life and business. When I’m not teaching about productivity to solopreneurs, I spend my time writing romance novels, and occasionally, business books. And that is what this podcast is all about: the adventures of the author life. 

Now let’s get into this episode of the Indie Author Weekly podcast. Today, I want to share a few tips for how to organize the structure of a non-fiction book. I tend to focus much more on the fiction side of things in this podcast, but fun fact, the first book I ever published was a non-fiction book. It’s called The Business of Writing & Editing: Practical Tips & Templates for New Freelancers. It’s available at your favourite e-bookstore, or you can grab your copy at SaganMorrow.com/books. I’ll drop the link in the show notes. 

I thought this was a really important topic to share about because there are so many different ways that you can organize the structure for a non-fiction book. Storytelling isn’t just for fiction. In fact, I would argue that storytelling is extremely important in non-fiction, too. 

Writing non-fiction can be an art, just as much as writing fiction. There are many factors to consider when you are writing your non-fiction book, and depending on how you structure it, you will either make it more accessible and empowering to your reader… or it will fall flat. Structure matters! How you organize information and relay it to your reader can be the difference between them getting a ton of value from your book, or leaving them confused and dissatisfied. 

With that in mind, here are a few of the things you’ll want to consider when you’re organizing the structure of a non-fiction book—I have 4 tips for you today... TUNE IN to this week's episode to get the tips!

Resources & links mentioned in this episode:  

Let's chat about this episode:  

Support the show (https://saganmorrow.com/secretpodcast)

Show Notes Transcript

Welcome back to Indie Author Weekly, where I share my behind-the-scenes journey of writing and self-publishing books. 

If you’re new to this podcast, I am a productivity strategist for multi-passionate creatives at SaganMorrow.com: I help people manage their time and energy effectively, through customized, actionable strategies that work for your unique life and business. When I’m not teaching about productivity to solopreneurs, I spend my time writing romance novels, and occasionally, business books. And that is what this podcast is all about: the adventures of the author life. 

Now let’s get into this episode of the Indie Author Weekly podcast. Today, I want to share a few tips for how to organize the structure of a non-fiction book. I tend to focus much more on the fiction side of things in this podcast, but fun fact, the first book I ever published was a non-fiction book. It’s called The Business of Writing & Editing: Practical Tips & Templates for New Freelancers. It’s available at your favourite e-bookstore, or you can grab your copy at SaganMorrow.com/books. I’ll drop the link in the show notes. 

I thought this was a really important topic to share about because there are so many different ways that you can organize the structure for a non-fiction book. Storytelling isn’t just for fiction. In fact, I would argue that storytelling is extremely important in non-fiction, too. 

Writing non-fiction can be an art, just as much as writing fiction. There are many factors to consider when you are writing your non-fiction book, and depending on how you structure it, you will either make it more accessible and empowering to your reader… or it will fall flat. Structure matters! How you organize information and relay it to your reader can be the difference between them getting a ton of value from your book, or leaving them confused and dissatisfied. 

With that in mind, here are a few of the things you’ll want to consider when you’re organizing the structure of a non-fiction book—I have 4 tips for you today... TUNE IN to this week's episode to get the tips!

Resources & links mentioned in this episode:  

Let's chat about this episode:  

Support the show (https://saganmorrow.com/secretpodcast)

Hello friends! Sagan here. Welcome back to Indie Author Weekly, where I share my behind-the-scenes journey of writing and self-publishing books. 

If you’re new to this podcast, I am a productivity strategist for multi-passionate creatives at SaganMorrow.com: I help people manage their time and energy effectively, through customized, actionable strategies that work for your unique life and business. When I’m not teaching about productivity to solopreneurs, I spend my time writing romance novels, and occasionally, business books. And that is what this podcast is all about: the adventures of the author life. 

Now let’s get into this episode of the Indie Author Weekly podcast. Today, I want to share a few tips for how to organize the structure of a non-fiction book. I tend to focus much more on the fiction side of things in this podcast, but fun fact, the first book I ever published was a non-fiction book. It’s called The Business of Writing & Editing: Practical Tips & Templates for New Freelancers. It’s available at your favourite e-bookstore, or you can grab your copy at SaganMorrow.com/books. I’ll drop the link in the show notes. 

I thought this was a really important topic to share about because there are so many different ways that you can organize the structure for a non-fiction book. Storytelling isn’t just for fiction. In fact, I would argue that storytelling is extremely important in non-fiction, too.   

Writing non-fiction can be an art, just as much as writing fiction. There are many factors to consider when you are writing your non-fiction book, and depending on how you structure it, you will either make it more accessible and empowering to your reader… or it will fall flat. Structure matters! How you organize information and relay it to your reader can be the difference between them getting a ton of value from your book, or leaving them confused and dissatisfied. 

With that in mind, here are a few of the things you’ll want to consider when you’re organizing the structure of a non-fiction book—I have 4 tips for you today... 

Tip #1: Figure out the core purpose of the book and the message you want to convey. 

Why are you writing this book? What do you want to achieve with it? What message do you want to share with the world? 

At this stage, you can also think about whether this book is more informational, or instructional, or a bit of both. Do you want people to think about things from a new perspective? Do you want them to take specific action? 

Depending on what your core purpose is with the book, that could have a really big difference in how you structure it. 

For example, I took two different approaches with a couple of my business books: The Business of Writing & Editing is part-memoir, part-how-to guide: it provides step-by-step practical instructions, while also filling in the gaps with personal anecdotes. 

On the other hand, another book of mine, Begin Your Biz in 15 Minutes/Day: Your Freelancing Tips Starter Kit, is very much all about the action. It literally provides you with a year’s worth of 15-minute action steps you can take for your business every single day. The entire focus of the book is empowering freelancers to make progress with your business, so it is straight to the point; there aren’t anecdotes or personal stories included throughout.   

Again, if you’re interested in learning more about that book, it’s available on most e-bookstores, or you can grab a copy at SaganMorrow.com/books

Okay! So, after figuring out the core purpose of the book and the message you want to convey, we move onto the next tip... 

Tip #2: Identify who your target reader is.   

This is going to affect how you structure your book. For example, with The Business of Writing & Editing, I created it specifically for people who are thinking about starting their freelance business. It made a lot of sense to share stories and anecdotes so that readers can get a real-life understanding of what goes into being a freelancer and prepare accordingly. 

On the other hand, Begin Your Biz in 15 Minutes/Day is much more for the busy, overwhelmed freelancer who has no idea what to prioritize from one day to the next, and feels like they have zero time on their hands to start or grow their business.   

As you can see, figuring out where these two different kinds of readers are at in their freelancing journey, and what they are currently experiencing with pain points, and why they might want to pick up this book, had a really big influence on my choice for how to structure the book. Remember, how you choose to structure your book will have a direct impact on how effective and useful the book is for your reader. 

Tip #3: Choose your writing style and voice. 

Do you want to be a reassuring voice? Do you prefer a more casual or a more formal address? Are you more interested in getting straight to the point, or incorporating a lot of storytelling? How will you convey your expertise? Are you writing in your own first-person voice, or are you a detached third party? Is this book more of an academic textbook style or can the layman get a lot from it? 

Again, think back to your core message and purpose with the book, as well as who your reader is, when you’re figuring this out. 

Tip #4: Outline the key points you want to include. 

I typically like to do this as sort of an early version of the Table of Contents, but you could even use mind mapping as a tool for organizing your ideas—learn more about that process in Episode 44 of this Indie Author Weekly podcast.   

The idea here is that you’re getting a bird’s eye view of everything that goes into the book. Again, keep in mind who your target reader is: what will be most helpful for them? When you outline the key points, is your message and purpose with this book still clear? Is there anything you need to change about your writing style and voice to accommodate this? 

Once you outline the key points, you might realize that some elements of the book can be structured differently than others. For example, in The Business of Writing & Editing, it made sense to include different parts as anecdotes vs bulleted lists vs an actual template at the back: a sample business plan template went into the appendices, whereas an overview of what to include in your business strategy became a bulleted list, and I shared personal examples and real-life case studies of marketing my freelance business throughout the chapters. 

By the way—if the whole business planning thing sounds like something you’re interested in, then I do recommend you grab a copy of The Business of Writing & Editing at SaganMorrow.com/books. You can also check out my Business Planning Retreat Workshop, which is a video training on that same subject, at SaganMorrow.com/retreat

So, there you have it: 4 tips for structuring your non-fiction book. To recap: 

  • Tip #1: Figure out the core purpose of the book and the message you want to convey
  • Tip #2: Identify who your target reader is
  • Tip #3: Choose your writing style and voice
  • Tip #4: Outline the key points you want to include

Now, I would love to hear your thoughts on all of this: Have you thought about writing a non-fiction book? Do you find that the way a book is structured is important to you when you’re reading non-fiction? 

Connect with me on Twitter and Instagram, @Saganlives, to chat about it! And you can send me a message on either of those platforms if you have requests for future episode topics, too. The more you tell me what you’d like to see more of on this podcast, the better that I can accommodate that. You can also submit your questions or topic ideas anonymously at SaganMorrow.com/question.   

If you enjoyed this episode, please take 2 minutes to share this podcast on social media and rate it on Apple Podcasts—any time you share it or leave a rating or review, it helps more listeners find the Indie Author Weekly podcast, so every bit counts! I really appreciate your support. 

By the way, you can access complete word-for-word transcripts of this episode and all past episodes, plus sample chapters of my books and a few other bonuses and goodies, on the “secret” version of this podcast. Get access to all of that at SaganMorrow.com/secretpodcast.  

Thanks so much for tuning in to the Indie Author Weekly podcast, and I will see you in the next episode.