Once you’ve decided on your book’s topic, you do NOT have to gather up the courage to sit at a blank computer screen awaiting inspiration to write you first word. Why not, you ask? Because you’ve already written that first word! Most likely you’ve written many thousands of words on your chosen topic in the form of blog posts, videos, audio interviews, and more.
Get started by creating a cohesive outline for your book. Keep the outline tight and subject-specific; no tangents or unrelated topics here. Every chapter heading should directly relate to the main subject of your book. We’ll talk more about outlines in Step Four.
Now it’s time to curate all your previously published content on this topic so you can fill in the outline for your book. Reusing your content for any project will make your life infinitely easier and will make your bigger projects much quicker to finish.
Creating a master list of all your content is a good habit to start, no matter how much content you’ve published over the years; however, depending on how many years you’ve been in business, this can be a very daunting task. Delegating to a VA can help reduce your stress level considerably.
Which Content Can Be Reused?
Basically any content that is originally written or produced by you is your intellectual property and can be reused in any fashion. If you have a co-author on a report, be kind and obtain permission from your co-author before repurposing. At the very least, properly credit information or stats from the original piece of content. The same is true of any charts or graphs that incorporate another author’s findings. Always obtain permission and/or properly credit the author in your book.
If you used Private Label Rights content (PLR) to get started with any of your blog posts or as the basis of a video script, you still have the right to repurpose that content into your book. When you purchase PLR, you’re purchasing the licensing rights to reuse that content as your own. The same is true if you hired a ghostwriter to write any of your content. You paid the ghostwriter for the license and right to use the content as your own.
So, go through ALL your content and search for those pieces that can be reused for your chosen book topic. Look through your blog posts, video scripts, webinars, podcast interviews, infographics, PowerPoint slides, lead magnets, branded graphics, handouts, and guest blog posts. Go back and review your social media posts; you might find a gem from the past which can be used in your book.
Organizational Tools and Tips
Ultimately, the best organization tool or software is the one you’ll use consistently. You’ll find dozens if not hundreds of options available but there’s no need to break the bank on a solution you won’t use. First decide if you prefer the old school pen-and-paper solutions or if you are fully tech-savvy and do everything online. Answering this single question decreases your options significantly, thereby causing less confusion.
Option 1: Google Docs and Spreadsheets
One option to organize your files is to create a master list of all your published content using a simple spreadsheet and saving it in Google Docs so your VA can update it easily. List your content titles, publication dates, and direct links. Go one step further and create separate spreadsheets for each media format (blog posts, videos, podcast interviews, etc.) Using the links on a spreadsheet easily calls up your content so you can copy/paste it into your book.
Go one step further with this spreadsheet idea by creating Google Docs folders and physically placing copies of each piece of content into them. This requires copying/pasting past blog posts into a new document and saving it that way but it’s another way to have easy access to your content. Store podcast interviews and videos in the same manner. Going forward, create your blog post drafts in these folders FIRST, and then copy/paste onto your site. Either way, you’re publishing the content but you also have a backup in your Google Docs.
Of course, your podcast interviews and YouTube videos should be included in these master files and can certainly become a part of your book. If you don’t have the scripts for the videos, simply send the video clip to a transcribing service and store the final transcript in your Google Doc folders. Rev.com has built their reputation on being quick and accurate with their transcripts and then you have the words from your videos and interviews to edit and add to your book.
When storing your content in folders, take some time to think about how you’ll name your files. It may not seem important now but there’s nothing worse than knowing you have a file somewhere but you can’t find it because you used a cryptic form of file naming or you stored everything by year of publication and have no idea which of your 10 folders to start searching. Think of a format that makes sense to you, that accurately describes each document topic, and that you’ll use going forward. And if you’ve done interviews with other experts, include the expert’s name in your file title.
Option 2: Evernote
One of the many benefits of using Evernote to organize and actually write your book is that you can sync Evernote across all your devices. So even if you start off using your laptop, if you’re struck with inspiration while at the soccer field with your kids, you can update Evernote without losing your brilliant idea.
Evernote would be best used to create your outline and to type notes about each chapter of your book. Even with curated content you’ll still need to expand upon some topics, add an introduction, etc. so using Evernote allows you to create a draft and then simply drop in the curated content to edit.
In terms of organizing your information in Evernote, it’s very simple. Make one note per chapter and then “stack” those notes together under the title of your book. Create more notes for Research and then stack those notes under your book title. Soon you’ll see a very cohesive index of all your notes and you’ll find yourself more focused on each note instead of distracted with multiple open windows on your computer or physical notes scattered across your desk.
Option 3: Scrivener
Scrivener is a paid writing app that offers a multitude of features, least of which is a convenient way to organize your writing. You can choose a corkboard – which serves as a story board for your notes – or you can choose an outline format. The beauty is you can drag-and-drop your files into any order you please until your book flows exactly the way you want it to.
If you have a great idea but aren’t sure where it fits in your book, write it in Scrivener and figure out its placement later. In the case of curating your content, write a simple note for each piece of content you want to use and then place it in the correct order.
Similar to Evernote, Scrivener’s product license allows installation on any computer you own. So, if you’re working at the park on your laptop, you can still access your Scrivener files instead of using your home computer.
No matter what your book topic, it’s always better to start with more material and pare down instead of worrying about not having enough, so include everything! There will be plenty of time later to edit your material and eliminate information, if necessary.
Take a look at Book Launch Booster Rockets to decide whether this strategy is the right one for you as you begin writing and marketing your book.