5 steps to plan your book (my fail-proof process) | Grammar Factory Publishing

5 steps to plan your book (my fail-proof process)

Whenever people ask me how to write, and how to write quickly, I always give the same advice:

“Create a thorough plan of your book, including chapter topics, the main points you’ll cover in each chapter, the examples you want to use, and even your quotes. The more thorough your plan, the less you’ll have to write.”

Yet time and time again I see first-time authors getting stuck on their first drafts. When I see their plan, it’s easy to see why – all they’ve done is listed their five main points.

So how do you create a fail-proof plan for your book? Read on . . .


Start with your book’s central idea.

In one sentence, what’s your book about? Don’t worry about making it sound great or whether it will make sense to anyone else – this sentence only needs to make sense for you.

If you’re writing a ‘how to’ book, a good way to structure your central idea is ‘how can I . . .’ for example, ‘how can I help female entrepreneurs create a distinctive brand with words?’


Make a mind map

Get a blank piece of poster paper and write your central idea in the middle of the page. What other ideas does this sentence spur?

Start drawing a mind map, with lines pointing from your central idea to each related idea, then lines pointing from each related idea to more related ideas.

Keep brainstorming – can you think of any real-world examples related to these ideas? What about statistics, quotes, case studies or stories in the media? Add them to your mind map.


Even add reminders to look something up, or to call so-and-so about her experience – you’ll forget them if you don’t.


Organise your mind map

Review your mind map (which probably looks like a big mess right now), and see if there are any common themes that come up. Have you said the same thing twice? Or are there a couple of ideas that are related, but they’re on opposite sides of the page? Use some coloured highlighters or pens to link related items.

Then sketch a new, more organised, mind map, grouping the common ideas. These ideas will become the main sections or chapters of your book.

If your book is a ‘how to’ book, think about the process you use to help your readers achieve the results they want. How can you group the ideas on your mind map into the steps of your process?


Plan individual chapters

Write down each chapter/section topic on a blank page (don’t worry about the actual chapter titles yet – you can work on these later. At the moment we’re just organising your brain).

Which points do you need to cover to discuss that topic in detail? Once you’ve listed those points, can you break any of those into smaller points? Are there any examples you can use to explain an individual point?

Describe each point at a high level (either in bullet points or a couple of paragraphs), and do the same for each example. Include links and references you can use to look up more information if you want to go into more depth.


Write your book!

Once you’ve broken down every point in your plan into as much detail as possible, start writing your book. As you get started, you’ll see that because you’ve planned so thoroughly, there isn’t much left to write. Essentially you’re just filling the space between your notes.

Feeling a bit theoretical? If you’re ready to stop:

  • Spending hour after hour staring at a blinking cursor with no idea what to write next
  • Reading, rereading and rewriting your words over and over again, trying to figure out why it’s just not working
  • Wasting thousands of dollars on writing coaches, manuscript appraisals, editors, proofreaders and more, only to discover it’s still not finished

Take a look at my new book, Book Blueprint. Book Blueprint maps out your book from start to finish, and you finish with a plan so detailed your book will write itself. Learn more at https://grammarfactory.com/bookblueprint/