The Value of Planning Your Ebook

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HiResIn the world of writing, there’s an ongoing debate about whether or not to spend time planning your ebook prior to typing the first word.

It’s the “mappers vs. pantsers,” those who like to map out what they will write first versus those who like to write “by the seat of their pants” or as inspiration hits them.

Sometimes you can write a book “off the top of your head” and have it all make sense. More often than not, you end up needing to do a lot of editing because what you thought made sense when you were writing actually doesn’t make sense later to anyone but you.

In other words, when you finish writing, the manuscript needs a lot of revising.

I have a tendency to be a ‘pantser’, but I’ve learned to be a planner, and I think everyone should be. This is especially true if you write ebooks to boost your business or to impact readers or inspire them to action of any sort.

The reason why is simple: You’ll write your ebook a lot faster and more effectively and the end product will fulfill your purpose.

Writing by the Seat of Your Pants

iStock_000006887586XSmallLet me tell you a story about one of my clients, actually a potential client. He really wants to get his ebook written. It’s intended to improve the K-12 educational system.

Yet, he’s floundering around and has been for a long time. He keeps saying he knows all the material and is a great speaker. So, he should be able to just sit down and write, which is what he is doing.

He refuses to produce an outline—or even to decide on the best audience for his ebook. It’s everyone…students, parents and teachers. He thinks when they read his book they will all somehow miraculously help change the system. He hasn’t decided who to target to best accomplish his goal—or how to accomplish that goal with his book.

He has about 12,000 words written. Recently he hired me for a strategy session, and as we talked, I pointed out that all he seemed to have in his manuscript were broad concepts. Yet, he wanted his book to inspire change.

I told him he needed to provide solutions—and ones that a particular segment of his audience (a target market) could actually implement. This was a big aha moment for him.

Time to Revise

This writer doesn’t need to throw away what he has already composed. However, after struggling to get half his ebook written, he now needs to go back and determine if that part is clearly enough focused, if it serves the goal he set out to accomplish, or if he needs to rewrite, re-angle or revise drastically to make his project viable.

That’s a pretty frustrating proposition when it took him so long to get this far along. This scenario could have been avoided with planning. He choose, instead, to write by the seat of his pants.

Writing with a Plan

Book IdeaHad my client chosen to take the time to do some serious planning—or to ask me what planning to do, I would have told him to start by determining:

  • His ideal reader
  • His target market
  • His competition

With that information, he could better focus his idea on what his readers wanted and needed and how to create the change he, as an author, wants to inspire. This would make his ebook more marketable.

He had actually complained that when he spoke to large audiences they seemed interested, but no one contacted him later for more information. Not a good sign. Somehow he wasn’t capturing his audience.

Plus, he hasn’t ever looked at what other books have been published to see if what he is doing is different, new or necessary. Maybe what he is saying is old news. Same ol’, same ol’. That won’t inspire anyone to create change—or buy a product or service.

With the kind of research I suggest, he could then create:

  • A table of contents—basically an outline of his chapters
  • Chapter summaries—brief synopsis of each chapter so he knows what content he will include

He would base these on his research, angling the structure and content of his ebook to the needs and desires of his readers and market. He also would be sure to make his ebook better and more unique than those already published.

Then he can review his proposed content to see if it is on target. He can ask if his ebook:

  • Address the needs of his readers—answers their questions, solves their problems or inspires them to change or create change?
  • Be unique and different from other ebooks in the marketplace already?
  • Fulfill his purpose?
Write a Necessary Ebook Easily and Effectively

Chapter topics and benefitsIf you follow this kind of plan, which is what I recommended to my client, you will find you can then write your ebook easily and effectively.

The whole book, and every chapter will be outlined, and you can just sit down and write with a map that leads you from start to finish.

Actually create a bulleted list of everything you plan to cover—all your main points—as well as the benefits you will deliver in each chapter.

If you then “write to the points and benefits,” you will easily stay focused and on target. You will fulfill your purpose, and your book will be just what your readers need and want.  That means they will purchase it!

Are your a “mapper” or a “pantser”? Share your experience with planning or not planning your ebook and how it affected the outcome the publication!

Nina Amir
Inspiration-to-Creation Coach and author of "How to Blog a Book, Write, Publish and Promote Your Work One Post at a Time," inspires people to combine their purpose and passion so they Achieve More Inspired Results. She motivates both writers and non-writers to create publishable and published products, careers as authors and to achieve their goals and fulfill their purpose.
Nina Amir
Nina Amir