Every book can benefit from the creation of an outline. By outlining your ideas before you start the writing process, a nonfiction book can have its facts laid out in a logical way before the narrative ever begins.
Here are the steps to follow if you want to know how to write a nonfiction book outline that is effective so that you can stay productive.
#1. Refine your topic.
In order for a nonfiction book outline to make sense, there must be a refined topic that becomes the thesis of the upcoming narrative. Instead of looking at general topics [i.e. writing], look for specific topics that can be covered [i.e. how to write a nonfiction book outline]. By having a specific topic, you’ll be able to gather the necessary facts to make the key points you’ll want to make in your book.
#2. Setup a meaningful content plan.
Some writers prefer to staple their pants to a chair and just write whatever comes to mind. Not every writer can do that, so a nonfiction outline should also involve a content plan. This will let you know where you intend to take your book before you begin the narrative. Create a Table of Contents which covers the various structures you wish to include in your book.
Use the Table of Contents as your basic outline to include some of the information you will want to write about. Then you’ll be able to sit down to start writing.
#3. Notate any research you’ll need to do.
Once you have your navigational map in place, you’re ready to determine what kind of research will need to be done for your nonfiction book. You can notate this research next to each outline item. You may even wish to note what type of research you may need to do: online research, library research, and so forth.
If you need to do personal interviews for certain topics, then this is the outline step where you would note that requirement as well. Some authors find it beneficial to color-code each research item [red for interviews, yellow for library reference, green for online research] so they have a quick visual reference for what needs to be done.
#4. Create your schedule.
At this point, you’ll have a general sense of what needs to be done to complete your nonfiction book. Now you need to plug this plan into your schedule. How many words per day are you going to need to write in order for you to reach your goals? How much time in research will you need to spend every day to gather the information you’ll need to write?
If interviews need to take place, you’ll want to block out some specific times during the week so you won’t have to rearrange your schedule. If no interviews get scheduled, then you can use that as extra research or writing time.
#5. Finalize your materials.
The writing process is much smoother when the nonfiction book outline creation process includes material gathering. Instead of hunting down the various documents, media, and recordings that you need for your book, you’ll have it all together in one specific space. Try to organize your materials in a final pattern that matches your overall outline or Table of Contents
This will also help to improve your speed of writing. The average pace for writing a book is about 750 words per hour. With materials gathered, you might be able to reach 1,500-2,000 words per hour. If you’re forced to hunt down materials as you write, then you might be lucky to top 500 words per hour.
Use whatever organizational or filing system that works best for you.
#6. Stay committed to the process.
Once you know how much you can write every day and how long it will take you to write it, then you’re ready to establish a habit of writing. Schedule your day in such a way so that you can write your scheduled goals with regularity. You must sometimes consciously decide to sit down and write your book instead of doing other things.
If you’re able to write 1,500-2,000 words per day, with a nonfiction book outline helping you out, you could have the first draft of your narrative completed in just 30 days. That’s why knowing how to write a nonfiction book outline is such a valuable skill. Follow these steps and you’ll be able to create the foundation of your next book in no time at all.
Bonus! Just because this post is all about one of the most important aspects of writing a book, If you contact me in November, what I refer to as “The Month of Giving,” I will be happy to offer you, at no cost or obligation to work with me, a free outlining session.
I’ve been conducting writers workshops for more than a decade. Take advantage of this offer today if you wish.