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  • Writer's pictureLaura Schaefer

The Key to Effective Book Planning

One of the hardest things to hear when you start planning your book is actually the most freeing:

Do less.

I'm serious.

Design your book around ONE big idea and let the rest go (for your next book, of course).

Because books are a big deal in our culture, new authors often feel they have to give them everything they've got.

This is true when it comes to commitment and follow-through. But it is NOT true when it comes to ideas.

Be disciplined; hone your message.

Focus on including ONLY what serves your one big idea and get *crystal clear* about who needs to hear it. If you do this, the writing will be easier AND the marketing of the book will eventually be easier.

Here are some useful questions to ask as you are getting started:

  1. What is the one big idea this book will convey? Is it interesting? New? Targeted toward a specific underserved audience others aren't reaching?

  2. How did *I* learn this one big idea? Can I break it down into smaller bites? Is there a story that underlies what I'm teaching here?

  3. What are the stories, examples, steps, or framework I'll use to teach what I've learned?

  4. Who can I partner with on my writing journey to get it done?

  5. How can I convey my clear authority on this subject?

  6. What tone am I going for?

Here is another way to think about the same concept: Your book needs boundaries.

Again, memoirs (and every other kind of nonfiction book) go off the rails the moment you try to do too much. Give the story you want to tell a firm container.

Is there one part of your life where you experienced a major transformation? Focus on that time period and leave the rest aside, or pick a theme and write into that theme:

  • loss

  • partnership

  • spirituality

  • leadership

  • parenthood

  • strength

You get the idea.

Boundaries create better relationships and better books. I know it's a buzzword right now and you may be sick of it. (I'm honestly kind of sick of it.) Nevertheless, putting some mental guidelines in place is the best way to actually move forward with your book. If you try to do too much, you'll do nothing.

Think of it like this: when people get to know you, what is it about your story that stands out? What have you experienced in your life, work, or personal evolvement that most people have not? What year of your life was the most remarkable? Why? Start there.

Write about that. Don't try to cover everything. Ask, "What would writing this thing look like if it were easy?"

If you'd like to talk with me about these questions on a Zoom call, I am here.

Your book matters. It has weight. Take the time to plan it carefully.

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