Some of us have the perfect idea for a book, but we do not know where to begin with the writing. Others have the desire to write a book but the topic won’t come into clear focus. Use this guide to lay the foundation for your book. Show the completed questions to your favorite writing buddy, share it with your writers’ group, bring it to an editor, or have a friend in publishing read it over. Or keep it to yourself and just start writing!
A. In 50 words or less, what is the thesis of the book you want to write?
B. In a paragraph, what will be the content of the book? Include the key theme or message, the major points, and the format or structure–biography, narrative, expositional, etc.–you’ll follow.
C. How long have you thought about the idea for this book, and what have you already done toward expressing that idea in writing?
These questions serve to expand the book idea into something quite concrete. If you can say the above clearly, you’ve gone a long way toward being ready to start writing.
2. The Reader
A. What kind of person will your reader be?
Not simply, just “Christian” or “non-Christian.” Describe your target reader as specifically as you can. We’re talking about your primary audience.
B. What is motivating you to write the book?
What specific interests, needs or problems among the intended readers prompted you to want to write the book?
C. How will the intended reader be reached with the book?
In other words, are you going to distribute the book personally, by advertising online, in a newspaper or periodical, by promoting it through the seminary or bookstore, through colporteurs, by selling it on the street corner or giving it to your friends and your enemies? The issue is: How will the reader find out the book exists and be given the privilege of reading it?
3. The Book or the Manuscript
A. What benefits will your reader get from reading your book? Be specific. Don’t say, “Well, to help them to pray better.”
B. What is unique about the book?
In other words, what will your book offer that other books on the same subject do not offer? There might not be a book in existence on this subject, but yet there might be. So what will you offer that is unique?
So, if Juan Gonzales already has a book on teenagers, I, the publisher, would ask you, “Well, what is there in your book about teenagers that isn’t in Juan Gonzales’ book?
4. The Writer
A. What education and/or life experience qualifies you to write this particular book?
B.Have you written any articles about this subject?
C. Are you willing to work with an editor toward completion and publication of this book?
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