I received an email this week from Paul T. Paul asked:
I have been toying with the idea of publishing some sort of eBook. My problem is staying focused on one topic. I could say I probably have topics and starts of layouts for about a dozen books. Do you have any ideas on how to stay on track?
Thanks for the email, Paul. This is a really valid concern.
Here’s how you can figure out what path you’ll want to take to get started with your books.
1. Decide why you want to publish your book.
Are you looking to establish your credibility in your field? Attract new clients? Fulfill a life-long dream of being a published author? Make extra money?
No answer is the wrong answer! But the answer to WHY you want to publish your will direct how you go forward.
2. Know your thought process.
Do you need to write it all down and get it all out? Or can you make a list of book topics before actually writing a word?
There are people who work both ways. Either way is just fine and use with what works for you. I’m a list creator and usually that works for me. But sometimes, I end up writing everything that comes through my head and then cutting it down to just the main topic and moving all the rest of the writing to different projects.
While that may seem like more work, when I get to the other projects, a lot of the writing is already started!
3. Find the project’s flow.
You need to have gain clarity on what each book will specifically be about and what flows from one topic to the next. Sometimes you’ll find that what started out as one topic becomes three!
If you try to skip step two, you’ll just frustrate yourself. Give your ideas time to percolate so you can see what works in Project A and what is better in Project B.
For example, I’m working on a book that will be a beginner’s guide to tent camping. My idea creation had all this AND camping games and songs, crafts, stories, and recipes. Too much! I am staying laser focused on JUST information for tent camping for beginners and moving everything else into other books.
Don’t forget that when you have more than one book in a subject area, you can always direct readers from one book to the next. I direct readers to my cookbooks from the campfire story books and vice versa.
4. Pick your favorite topic and GO!
In the case of my camping book project(s), I really wasn’t excited by camping games and songs. I’m sure there’s a market for the information. I’m even pretty sure it would be fun to write. But it didn’t fire me up and make me excited.
I also decided to focus on the beginner’s guide to tent camping as my first project because it would help me establish credibility as an outdoor recreation expert. (Remember, that’s my other love!)
5. Cut everything that doesn’t fit.
I recently read a book that had a ton of potential. But the author wasn’t brutal in removing everything that didn’t fit the main premise of the book so the topics jumped around from her childhood to nutrition to relationships to self-esteem. She had so much knowledge to share but it got lost in lack of focus.
Notice I didn’t say DELETE anything that doesn’t fit your main topic! I said cut. Open up a second manuscript and save those sections for another project.