Millions of books are published every year. Why? Well, simply put, writing is big business.
People love to read, and it’s estimated that out of those millions of books published every year, less than 1% are successful, which is defined as selling at least 1,000 copies of their book.
That doesn’t mean you can’t be successful, it just means that most people don’t put the work in to make it happen. There is this sort of “build it, and they come” sort of mentality when it comes to writing books. So many seem to think that if they just write a book, that’s all they have to do.
But that isn’t the case. 80% of an author’s job is marketing their work. And those who are willing to put in that kind of work will find they are the ones who actually sell books. The good news is, once an author has a successful book, they build up an audience and find that each additional book they write sells even more.
This is why series are popular. They have a built-in audience. But how do authors crack out so many books so fast? I mean, to really be a success that’s what you have to do, write multiple books, then market those books to your fan base. Right?
Yeah. But there really is a — I hate to use the word “secret,” so let’s just say method to this. These authors use outlines. They sort of map everything out in advance, and then it’s just like sort of filling in the blanks.
This method drastically decreases the amount of time it takes to write each book.
I talk about marketing on my blog all the time but today I really want to deep dive into the writing process itself.
What is a book outline?
A book outline is a structured plan or roadmap for a book that authors use to organize their thoughts and ideas before they begin the actual writing process. It serves as a blueprint for the book, detailing its major components such as chapters, sections, key points, characters, plot development, and other crucial elements depending on the genre.
There are various ways to create a book outline, ranging from simple bullet points to detailed chapter-by-chapter summaries. Some authors prefer a loose, flexible outline, while others might create very detailed plans.
7 reasons why you need a book outline
- Clarity and Direction: An outline provides a clear direction for your book, helping you understand what you want to write and how to structure your content. It’s particularly useful for maintaining a coherent narrative in fiction or a logical flow of ideas in non-fiction.
- Efficiency and Organization: With a structured outline, you can write more efficiently. It helps in organizing your thoughts and ideas, preventing you from straying off-topic. This can be especially valuable for maintaining consistency in longer works.
- Identifying Weaknesses Early: Outlining allows you to spot potential problems in your plot or argument before you invest time in writing. You can identify gaps in your story, research needs, or structural issues early on, saving you time and effort in revisions.
- Maintaining Pace and Momentum: For many writers, staring at a blank page can be daunting. An outline provides a starting point and keeps you moving forward. It helps maintain momentum by breaking the writing process into manageable pieces.
- Enhancing Creativity: Contrary to the belief that outlines stifle creativity, they can actually provide a framework within which creativity can flourish. Knowing the structure beforehand allows writers to experiment with different narrative techniques and ideas more freely.
- A Tool for Collaboration: If you’re co-writing a book or working with editors, an outline is a valuable tool for collaboration. It ensures everyone involved has a clear understanding of the book’s direction and structure.
- Marketing and Pitching: If you’re planning to pitch your book to publishers or agents, an outline can be a crucial part of your proposal. It demonstrates that you have a clear vision for your book and that it has a coherent structure.
I learned this lesson the hard way after years of flying by the seat of my pants. I’m not a classically trained fiction writer. My background was in marketing. I got into writing because of my love of reading.
And that’s why I now help other aspiring authors write book outlines. I don’t want them to go through the trouble I did when I started my writing process. I want them to focus their free time marketing their book so they can be one of the 1% elite who make money from writing books.
I want you to be in that 1% who sells more than 1,000 copies of each book they write, and as they continue to write more books that 1,000 copies becomes 2,000 copies and then 5,000 books and who knows, maybe even 1 million. That’s my dream for you.
But for now, I just wanted you to know what a book outline is and why you need one.