The Book Plan


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The Book Plan is a simple explanation of how a writer can plan for a new book project. It is a tool that ensures the writer stays organized and does not forget any step in the process.

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The Book Plan

  1. 1. | The Book Plan An outline of steps involved in planning for a new book Edna R. Aluoch Copyright ©2013
  2. 2. | Introduction: Are you thinking of writing a new book? Do you know where or how to start? Have you ever thought of starting with a Book Plan? A Book Plan is simply a lay-out of the entire process of writing a book, from concept development up to the point of selling it. It helps you see the entire process at a go and be able to keep tabs on your progress (or allow someone else to do so). First, you need to see the process of writing your book as a project. Every project requires correct planning and proper management for it to succeed. Success in your case means the book gets published AND bought by the public. Every stage in the process is important and must be carefully planned for, so that targets are met and time is not wasted. I'm sure you have heard of different kinds of plans like business plans, strategic plans, wedding plans, recruitment plans, health plans and so forth. Although they are written in different ways they all have a common thread – to help you see clearly what you intend to do, estimate what it will cost to do it and find the best way to do it without wasting time or resources. A plan is an excellent tool for managing any kind of project, including a writing project. This eBook is more of a general guide that you can use as many times as you wish for different projects. The idea is to provide you with a foundation on which to build the actual plan that suits your needs. Lastly, although I have written it out in stages, they do not have to be followed chronologically or religiously. You may find yourself going back and forth over the stages as you make various changes to the plan. Some things like building an author platform or writing a book proposal are mentioned towards the end but in practice a book proposal tends to be written earlier, and you may already have an author platform before you start your project (you will see why once you go through the plan).
  3. 3. | Why a Book Plan? I have listened to this over and over again from various quarters – many people write books but very few of them ever get to be published! Why? For a number of reasons, the most common being that writers fail to put their books through proper editing. Editing a book is more than just checking on spelling and grammar (which is basically proofreading). The work of an editor is such that they can change the whole layout of the book, including rearranging paragraphs, sentences and even sections/chapters. The idea is to ensure that the book has a 'flow' and makes sense to the reader. Another pitfall for many writers is failure to do proper research on the publishing and marketing aspects. Not every book that is published gets to be bought. Some books stay on retail shelves for long periods of time without attracting many buyers. A Book Plan helps you to avoid these and other pitfalls by ensuring that the entire project is managed well and nothing is left to chance. Failure to plan well can lead to consequences that may even discourage your pursuit of writing. Every aspiring book-writer needs a good plan. How about you? Use this Book Plan for your next project and see what difference it makes. Here it is…
  4. 4. | 1. Concept Building This is the very first step in your project and it involves thinking about the subject matter of your book. If it's fiction, e.g. a novel, you will be thinking about the theme, story line and characters. For non-fiction works you will be thinking about the topic that has you itching to write. Do a proper research on your topic to get as much information as possible. For instance, find out what other books have been written on that subject, how much of the topic has been covered and where they have been published. You definitely do not want to duplicate other people's works. Keep writing down all your thoughts on paper or a Word document and file in a place where you can retrieve easily for reference. You will keep referring to these initial ideas as you write in order not to veer off your intended topic/theme. 2. Create a writing template This is the stage where a lot of thinking has to be done. The bulk of your project lies in this stage because it determines the outcome of the book. If you don’t prepare a good writing template, when you start writing you may lose track of the original idea or get confused. The writing template simplifies the process and makes it a lot more organized. Make sure you are clear-headed for this. Create a simple outline of your book based on the information gathered in stage one. Write at least ten topic-sections of the book that can stand on their own but are interconnected. These shall roughly serve as chapters. Under each section, write down the main points that talk about that section. Write freely at first, without worrying about the order of the points. Once you have all of them then you can arrange them in the order in which you will write. NB: The 10 sections are just an example; you don’t have to end up with that number of chapters. The benefits of a writing template are these: a) It helps you stay on track and not veer off your intended topic.
  5. 5. | b) It allows you to see your project in its entirety on paper so that you can add in new ideas, cut off some or make changes to them. 3. Determine your target audience Any kind of writing has to have a target audience, i.e. the people who you expect to buy, read and enjoy the book. Knowing your target audience (market) is important because it affects the content and language of your book. You have to slant the book towards the target market in order for it to sell successfully. Your target audience can be defined in terms of age group, sex, occupation, geographical location and education. Your target audience will also affect where you choose to market the book and what marketing strategies you use. 4. Write the first draft The only thing I can say here is that you write, write and write! The first draft is simply your first attempt at creating a flow out of the template in stage two. Do not worry about spelling and grammar at this stage; that will be dealt with later. Just simply get out all you can onto the paper/screen. This stage can take months or even a year depending on the length of the book as well as how often you write. Sometimes you may experience what is commonly called 'writer's block' and may not be able to write anything for days but don’t worry; it will pass and then you will continue. Once you are though with the first draft, put it aside for a few days to a week. This break allows your brain to take a rest and form new thoughts and opinions about what you are writing. When you come back to the draft later you can make changes, insert new ideas or cancel whole paragraphs as the case may be. Meanwhile you can go on to do other things.
  6. 6. | 5. Formatting and Layout This step depends on whether you will publish the book yourself or not. If you are planning to submit the book to a publisher, they are likely to format your manuscript for you. However, for self publishing you have to think about how to format the book to make it attractive and professional looking. Formatting involves choosing styles for headings and fonts, as well as creating what is known as the front matter. The front matter is simply everything before the first chapter, i.e. the cover page, copyright information, dedication, foreword/preface and introduction. If your book includes pictures, tables or graphics this is the time to insert them. At this point you might want to think about the book cover as well, which is a very important aspect of the final product. It is said that the cover of a book is more about marketing than anything else. Being the first impression a potential reader has of your book, it stands to bring you the most gain in terms of advertizing so do not neglect or overlook it. Just keep in mind that a great book is not only about its content but also its physical appearance. Both have to be appealing to the reader. 6. Proof reading and editing Retrieve your first draft and make whatever necessary changes you have come up with. Now you have the final draft (manuscript) which can be taken for editing. The proofreading is simply carrying out a spelling and grammar check, which you can do on your own if you have the skills, but the editing needs to be done professionally if you want the book to succeed in publishing. Find an agency that does this kind of work or an individual editor with a good track record. I cannot over-emphasize the grave importance of having your manuscript edited. It can make the difference between your book being a success or a failure in the market. Do not overlook or take this lightly!
  7. 7. | 7. Publishing Once the editing and formatting is done you are ready to publish the book. If you are targeting specific publishers, find out what are their procedures for submitting a manuscript. There are some that will ask you to write a synopsis (summary of what your book is all about) or a proposal so you need to be ready with one. However, a book proposal is normally requested before the book is written as a way of testing whether it will be a viable project or not. On the other hand if you are going for self publishing you need to think about the printing, design and what costs are involved. You will also have to think about marketing the book, i.e. where, when and how. Self-publishing has never been better for eBook writers than it is now. There are a number of platforms that offer free publishing, including,, and others. I have included a list of such sites in my website for easy reference. Go to this page for the list. At this point you also need to think about getting copyright for your book. As an author/creator of literary works, it is your responsibility to safeguard your intellectual property with the appropriate legal body. In Kenya, this is the Kenya Copyright Board and the relevant legislation is the Copyright Act, 2001. The process involves filling in a form, which you can download from their site, paying a fee and submitting a copy of your works. 8. Book launch If you want to officially launch the book you have to decide when to do it, where to launch, who to invite, what you will say at the launch and whether you will have a book signing ceremony. If you have the funds you can save yourself a lot of stress by hiring an event organizer, otherwise planning a book launch is almost like another project in itself. A book launch is primarily used for marketing purposes; to announce the book, whet the public's appetite, increase the author's visibility and generally stir up interest for the book. Make sure that you start planning early enough, preferably as soon as you have decided to publish the book. Consider timing and venue as key factors in your planning. For instance, if you write a book on
  8. 8. | the topic of HIV/AIDS it would be an excellent idea to launch it in the same month in which the World AIDS day is celebrated. If it’s a book that is likely to capture national interest it would make a lot of sense to launch it at a hotel where you can invite leaders in society. These are just examples. 9. Building your Author Platform Technically speaking, this is also a part of your marketing plan. It is an ongoing process that continues to succeeding publications. An Author Platform is simply a created space where you engage with your readers to increase credibility and visibility. It’s much like building your own personal brand. Many authors use personal websites or social media as their author platform. Your platform can be as big and wide or as small and narrow as you make it. In other words, it's up to you to create the platform and sustain it with your own creativity. Some ideas include, but are not limited to, social media sites, a personal website, blogs, YouTube and speaking engagements among others. --------------------------------------------------------If you have any questions please feel free to email The End!