Content is important – no argument here. After all, it doesn’t matter how much style you have if there’s no substance. However, for your content to have any impact, it needs to be delivered in an easily-digestible form. You create this with your structure.
Why structure is so important
While many people think an editor focuses on spelling, grammar, punctuation and typos, the majority of my work comes down to structure. I’ve moved chapters from the middle of books to the beginning. I’ve turned a three-part process into six sequential steps. I’ve split one book into two, added brand new content, and told clients to start again.
Why? Because structure is king. If you have a clear structure, not only will your readers love you, but you’ll boost your credibility, and you’ll make the writing and editing processes so much easier (for you and your editor).
Your readers will love you
While you might understand everything that’s going on in your head, your readers don’t. They don’t have your years of experience and expertise, so you’re going to need to hold their hand as you take them through concepts and processes that are second nature to you.
If you write without a clear structure (and no – knowing the five steps of your five step process is not a clear structure. A clear structure actually plans out how you’ll explain each of those five steps), you’re likely to just start typing everything that comes to mind, which will have no logical flow to an outsider.
If you write with a clear structure, it makes your book easier to read. It means your readers are more likely to understand what you do and how it can benefit them and, in the case of a how to book, it means they’re more likely to put the techniques you recommend into practice. This means they are more likely to experience real-world benefits, and when your readers experience real-world benefits, this means more good reviews for you, and your book gets recommended to more readers.
You will sound more credible
I know you know your stuff. If you didn’t, you wouldn’t even be considering writing a book. However, writing a book with no clear structure is more detrimental to your credibility than not having a book at all.
Just think – when was the last time you picked up a business or a how to book and couldn’t figure out what the author was talking about? Sure, the title sounded great, and they had the qualifications, but they kept jumping from topic to topic without any concrete advice you could apply to your everyday life (or if there was concrete advice, you missed it). If a reader still doesn’t know what you’re talking about by the end of your first chapter, they’re more likely to put down your book than to keep reading, which means no credibility boost for you.
However, if your book doesn’t follow a logical structure that naturally leads your reader to those ‘Aha!’ moments, then it actually damages your credibility. Why? Because most of us subconsciously believe that the way you do anything is the way you do everything, so if your book is chaotic and disorganised, they’re going to subconsciously connect those qualities to your business.
And this doesn’t just go for readers who are potential clients – what about those who are potential partners? If you can’t structure a book well, do you really think you’re going to get keynote gigs? The only indication the event coordinator reading your book has of how you’ll conduct a presentation is how you wrote your book. If your book doesn’t instil confidence, they’d rather go with a safe bet than take a chance on you.
By contrast, if you have a clear structure, you sound more intelligent, thoughtful and organised. You sound like you actually have the qualifications and experience you list in your bio. A clear structure even improves your sense of humour, because any jokes or sly remarks naturally build on the surrounding content.
But the most important thing is that a clear structure makes it sound like you know what you’re talking about.
You’ll include the right content (and won’t leave anything important out)
Over 60% of my clients lose over 7,000 words of their manuscript in their first round of edits. And, with the majority of these books being 30,000 – 50,000 words, that’s up to a quarter of their manuscript.
Why? Because they didn’t include the right content. They included content that was interesting, but that wasn’t relevant to their ideal readers, or that wasn’t related to the main subject of their book.
Or they included the right content, but they included the same thing in several different places, which meant they lost a lot of words when I consolidated it.
What’s ironic is that, if they’d had a clear plan and a clear structure, this wouldn’t have happened. They would have reviewed their content ideas before writing, and they wouldn’t have written anything irrelevant. They would have reviewed the organisation of their ideas before writing, which means each idea would have only been covered once, in a single section of the book.
Likewise, I tell 100% of my clients that they need to add new content after their first round of edits. This content can range from evidence like case studies and examples, to actionable exercises, to entire chapters or steps which are required but which are missing. Again, if they had done a thorough plan before writing the book, they would have outlined all of the content and where it fit, and would have been less likely to miss things out.
You have fewer rewrites
I think most of my clients send their book to me, hoping that when they get it back it will be the final version.
This is never the case. As you can imagine, if you lost 25% of your draft in the edit, there are going to be some major changes for you to review. You’re also going to have to add new content, which can be anywhere between another 2,000 words up to another 10,000 words.
Once you’ve added that new content, you’re going to need another round of editing. And, the more content you’ve added, the more likely it is that your second round of editing will come back with more major changes, and you’ll need to do a third round.
By getting your structure right at the beginning of the writing process, you can avoid the time and expense of this back and forth. After all, if you have a clear structure, your editor isn’t going to have to do as much structural work. Instead, the bulk of what they’ll focus on will be language and style, which means you may even get away with a single edit.
And this means that not only will you have more money left in your pocket, but you can get published faster.
Get your structure sorted
How do you sort your structure before you start writing?
I’m excited to share my fool-proof structure framework in my award-winning book, Book Blueprint.
Book Blueprint helps you get your structure sorted now, rather than waiting for the editorial back and forth. In the book you’ll learn how to:
- Finish your book in weeks, not months
- Write a book that your readers will love
- Sound like an authority in your industry
- Always know exactly what to write next
And, best of all, you’ll leave with a roadmap for your book that’s so comprehensive that your book will practically write itself.
To learn more, go to http://grammarfactory.com/bookblueprint