Sunday, June 29, 2008

Writing Non-fiction: Session 4: Organizing your book

Writing Non-fiction:
Session 4 - Organizing your book
Now that you’ve chosen the topic for your non-fiction book and an approach for writing about your topic, it’s time to organize your book by writing a working outline. It’s possible and advantageous to write your entire book from within an outline. It keeps you on track and gives you a starting point. So don’t skip this step. We will cover how to use the outline for your non-fiction book in the next couple of sessions. Before that, it’s time to decide what parts you will put in the outline and eventually into your book. This session is about making a list of them in the order in which they will appear in the book.
Parts of the book:

I. Book half title: This is the page at the front of the book that contains only the title

II. Title page: This page contains the title, subtitle; author or editor; and the name and location of the publisher

III. Copyright page: The information and the format for this page are too detailed for this publication, but they will be included in my upcoming book Before You Write. If you don’t want to wait, check in the Chicago Manual of Style or some similar book on publishing.

IV. Dedication: (optional) If you desire to put a dedication in the book, give it the respect it deserves by putting it on a page of its own.

V. Table of contents: Most word processing programs have an automatic feature for creating the table of contents. Familiarize yourself with this feature.

VI. Illustration list (optional)

VII. List of tables (optional)

VIII. Foreword: (optional) This is a statement by someone else, telling potential readers how good your book is. The foreword is usually what buyers look at first and may sell the book for you. Find someone who has impressive credentials or star-power, who by saying something nice about your book in the foreword will carry some weight with your readers. It may take you a while to find someone to write the foreword, so start early to send out query letters about this.

IX. Preface: (optional) Include the reasons for writing the book and methods of research (if any) in this section. Also, if you have been granted permission to use any published work within your book, it would good to mention it here.

X. Acknowledgements: (optional) Thanking those who have helped you with the book is important. To ensure you don’t miss anyone, begin keeping a list of those who helped you and what they did for you in this section from day one. That way, when you finish the book, you’ll merely have to re-write this section rather than having to scrounge for all those misplaced names and titles.

XI. Introduction: This is the beginning of the text section of your book. In the introduction, it’s good to give the reader a brief overview of the topics that will be covered.

XII. Chapters: In the next sessions, we will discuss outlining the chapters. Just put the word “chapters” in as a marker for now.

XIII. Appendices: (optional) An appendix can include any information that may be helpful to the reader but is too cumbersome to put within chapters. It can be a chart, a list, or a table.

XIV. Glossary: (optional) If your book will have a glossary, it will save you work if you will add the words to the glossary as you go along. Generally, a glossary will include the word and a working definition of the word.

XV. Bibliography or references: (optional, although I advise against leaving it out) In most non-fiction books, you will find a list of references. This not only legitimatizes the book, but it gives the reader other sources of information about the topic.

XVI. Index: (optional, although I advise against leaving it out) Most readers use the index throughout a book. Don’t skimp and leave this out. Most word processing programs have an index feature within them. It’d be good to familiarize yourself with this feature, so you can keep up with the index as you go along.

XVII. About the author: this should be a short bio about you and perhaps a picture.
You don't have to use all of these parts. Choose the ones that are the most appropriate for your book and set them up in a word processing file so you can insert the information that will go into each one as you go along.

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