Turning ideas into books

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Book writing isn’t easy, if it was, everyone would be doing it. So how do you take that idea and turn it into a book?

Firstly, it needs to be an idea that is broad enough to become a book, but not so broad that the ideas and story jump all over the place. It needs to be structured, with a clear outline to work from. This doesn’t stop you adding ideas, or changing concepts that don’t end up working for you. It simply is a guide, a fluid guide which moves and changes along with your writing.

Choosing a topic is very important. Why are you the best person to write about this topic, what other books are out there on this topic? Is your perspective new and fresh, does it lend to the knowledge and literature in the area of your choice? Do you need contributors? Who are you writing for? Do you have a clear understanding of your intended audience? All of these questions and more need to be asked before you start to write or at least when you have written some of the manuscript and may have a better idea where you’re heading with it.

Then what? Do you start writing and see how far you get or start writing only once you have done all your research and outlined each chapter?

I personally start writing my foreword once I have a bit of an outline, then I find I can usually keep writing from there and get several chapters in before I have to stop and bring in some of my research, check the outline and ensure I have covered everything I intend to cover in each chapter. This would be different for a fictional work as it progresses between plot points. For a non-fiction book the focus is on covering topics and sub-topics, bringing in research and raising discussion points around each.

All you need is an idea and you can create from it what you want – a blog post, an article, a feature article or an entire book. It’s up to you and up to the topic you choose.

When I was first writing ‘When Study Goes Wrong’, it got to a point where I thought, am I writing a book or am I writing a very long article? However once the stories from other graduates started coming in and I focused my writing on each area I wanted to cover, I found my word count increased dramatically and it went from long article to a book well on its way to being finished within one weekend of intense work. I needed that weekend; it inspired me to keep going once I saw that my book was taking shape.

My second book came from a simple idea also. I thought after ‘When Study Goes Wrong’ was published that the last thing I wanted to do was to start work on a second book, at least within the first year. Little did I know that I would be struck with an idea and have to start writing it down within two months of publishing. Now book 2 has also taken shape, it’s currently about half a book. I aim to publish book 2 in 2015 also, before Christmas if all goes to plan. While book 2 is also non-fiction, it’s still very different to ‘When Study Goes Wrong’. It is a different genre; it is a different type of writing in fact. As a travel book, it allows me to delve further into descriptive language to let the reader ‘see’ a location while ‘When Study Goes Wrong’ was more academic but written in an easy to read, conversational style.

My advice is to read widely and let ideas grow – you never know where an idea may take you.

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