Starting a new book project can be intimidating. You wonder how you will find time for research and for writing all the content for the book. Even if you know generally what you want to write about, you may be concerned about how you will present your ideas in a compelling and interesting way.
The good news is that you really don't need to procrastinate any longer. You may have already written much more of your book than you realize, and when you pull it all together, a theme often emerges that excites and interests you and your potential readers.
The trick is to go on a content scavenger hunt for anything you've written that demonstrates your knowledge. Here are three tips on where you can find enough content to give you a satisfying head start on your book.
Tip 1: Rummage through Your Email
Look for emails you've written that answer customer questions or explain how to do something. Any email that demonstrates your knowledge of the subject of your book can be a source of content. If you don't save emails like the ones I'm describing, you should start.
Even if the messages you find don't go into as much detail as you want, they can be a source of inspiration. Use them to trigger ideas about topics you can cover in your book. Email often points the way to subjects that are urgent or widely misunderstood. These subjects are an excellent opportunity for you to provide a solution or explanation that is naturally compelling to your readers.
Tip 2: Review Past Articles, Papers, and Reports
If you consider yourself a writer, odds are good that you have written articles and reports relating to your field of expertise. You may have written them for a trade magazine, the company newsletter, your boss, or possibly your own ezine. Depending upon who "owns" that material, you may be able to reuse it entirely for your book, but at least you can draw ideas from it for new material.
Sometimes, the best ideas come from reading between the lines. For example, say you find a report that explains how you solved a particular problem. Perhaps that problem was really just one symptom of a larger issue. Or perhaps the problem could have been easily prevented in the first place. Think about some of the things you wish you could have said in the report, and address those concepts in your book.
Tip 3: Comb Your Blog
Blogs have become such a common source for book content that the term "blook" was invented to mean a blog-based book. If you regularly publish thoughts and information related to your area of expertise on your blog (and you should) search your past entries for content that would be appropriate for your book.
Your blog can contribute to your book content in a number of other subtle ways too. For example, if you categorize your entries, those categories may help you organize your book material. Also, you can review visitor comments to see which entries generated questions or interest from your audience. Visitor comments give you a preview into the mind of your audience, which is why some authors intentionally use their blog to develop their book content as they write it.
These three tips should help you put together a satisfying collection of starting content and ideas for your book. However, email, articles, reports, and your blog aren't the only places you can look for reusable content or inspiration. Even notes from a phone conversation or a remembered discussion from a networking meeting can clue you into hot topics and sources of confusion in your audience.
If your book can help your readers solve common problems and bring clarity to confusing issues, they'll be happy to buy it, and then they'll tell their associates about it. For self-publishers, word of mouth is arguably the best advertising you can have, and it is certainly the least expensive!
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