7 (Easy) Ways to Develop Book Content

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This article is contributed by Patti McKenna, professional ghostwriter and editor. Patti has provided exemplary editing and writing services to my clients for over 4 years.

1. Conduct Interviews.
Contact at least three people who have expertise in your subject matter and schedule an interview. Hopefully, you’ll find three people who have knowledge in different areas of your book.
Tip: Let them know that they will be given full credit, thus receiving publicity and a plug to their business and/or website. Therefore, this shouldn’t be a competitor.

2. Conduct Information Surveys. Find Surveys.
Develop a questionnaire asking 10 questions and post it online, distribute it at your business, ask Twitter and Facebook friends, etc., to answer it.
Tip: Offer a discount or incentive to get people to respond.
Tip: Don’t worry if you only get 5 people to respond! You’ll be referring to this as an informal survey, not a study. Don’t say “3 out of the five people who responded”—you can word it in percentages: “60% of the people who responded.” No one knows only 5 people responded, and you’re being totally honest about the survey results!
Or you can find existing surveys online which support your message. Don’t replicate it, but do refer to it…”A September, 2010, survey conducted by the Wall Street Journal reveals that this problem is more common than previously thought—a whopping 75 percent of people admitted that….” Then, take it from there.
Tip: Write down your resources! Web links, print magazines, authors, etc.

3. Visit online forums which are centered around your subject matter.
Perform a Google search for online forums that are based on your subject matter. Review the threads. These forums will tell you the most common questions or issues people are facing in regard to your book’s central message. What are people asking the most? What’s their main problem? What, if any, unique questions and situations are posed? Take that information, and using your expertise, provide them with the information and solutions they’re seeking.

4. Peruse major print and online magazines and websites for the most common, current events and talking points in your subject matter. Incorporate that message into your book – IN YOUR OWN WORDS! Add stories and experiences which support your stance.
Tip: If you can find well-known people or celebrities to use as an example, your readers will relate to it. For example, a book about Parkinson’s disease could include Michael J. Fox’s well-known journey and what he’s done to promote a cure. You get the idea.

5. Check out Google searches and FAQs.
What are the top ten Google searches related to your subject? Those are ten chapter or core concept ideas you can use to center content around or support your content. The bonus, Top 10 ranking on Google proves that there is a need and a market for your book!
Go to the FAQ page on websites relating to your subject matter. You’re going to find information on the most commonly asked questions in your subject matter.

6. Use other people’s writing to support yours.
This does not mean to plagiarize or steal anyone’s intellectual property! But it’s quite okay to refer to the works of notable people in your industry to support your message. People do this all the time with Napoleon Hill’s Think and Grow Rich. They take his message, talk about it, and show how it can be applied to their topic. Books in the public domain are great starters for this type of work. Or as an example, you can say something like, “Motivational leader Tony Robbins teaches a similar philosophy in his programs and this is how you can use it in your business, life, etc.” Then embellish on what he teaches and how people can use it in your specific niche.

7. Look for little-known info—trivia, history, statistics.
Providing data, facts, and interesting tidbits supports your content and appeals to the reader. Trivia is always interesting, and it often provides the reader with something they didn’t know. For instance, I ghostwrote a book about building financial independence, so I did a search for businesses that opened or thrived in a recession. Not only did I receive a lot of content about franchises and well-known businesses that opened and thrived in a recession, but I got content for sidebars—Successful Businesses that Began in a Recession. I did the same thing with a book on adoption and came up with sidebars and callouts: Top Adoption Travel Tips, 5 Adoption Tax Credits, The 7 Steps to International Adoption. It’s bullet-point information that’s factual, helpful, and content rich.

Tip: Now that you’ve developed valuable information, offer valuable solutions!

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