Does one of these scenarios describe your situation?
- You’ve been working on your book for years, and you have printed material and files to prove it. Unfortunately, there is no rhyme or reason to how these documents are organized, either in printed or electronic form. In fact, you probably don’t know exactly what you have written and what you still need to write.
- You’re psyched and ready to begin working on your book, but you’ve already hit a brick wall. The truth is you don’t know how or where to start. All you have are ideas and notes but no real sense of what your next step should be.
Whichever of these descriptions fits you, you definitely need a book-writing coach. Here are some of the suggestions a coach would make to get you started.
Scenario #1: You have a great deal of information you want to organize.
- You have two sets of files: printed and electronic. The first step is to be sure they match. For every paper document, assume there is a file somewhere on your computer with the same title.
- Create a file folder on your desktop, and call it BOOK.
- Using the search function on your computer, search for the title of your first document. When you find it, open it to be sure it matches your paper file. If it does, save it to the BOOK file folder on your desktop. (FILE > SAVE AS > same title > Browse to find the BOOK file folder > SAVE)
- Repeat this process until all of the electronic files pertaining to your book are in a single file folder on your desktop.
- Now that they are all in one place, you can begin to determine what you have and what to do with each document.
Scenario #2: Organizing documents you have not yet written.
- Start by creating a file folder on your desktop and call it BOOK.
- Open that file folder and create another folder inside of it; name it Main Outline.
- Within the BOOK folder, keep creating new folders, until you have about fifteen. (You can add more later, if you need them, and delete any you don’t want. Give the folders the following names: Foreword, Preface, Introduction, Acknowledgements, Chapters 1 – 8, Appendices, Index, and Glossary.
- If you don’t have a main outline yet, that is the first and most important thing to develop. First, write down your main areas, each of which will eventually become chapters. Then, fill in the key points you plan to cover under each main heading. The more detailed you can make your outline, the better.
- When you are satisfied with your outline (you can always add, subtract, or change things later), open a new document in your word processing software (SELECT the first main heading of your outline and all of the points under it > COPY > PASTE into the blank document > SAVE as CH_1_Outline to the Chapter 1 file folder.)
- Repeat this process for each main point. (Number 2 in your outline is copied and pasted into a document called CH_2_Outline, which is saved in the Chapter 2 file folder.)
- When you are finished, you will have documents in your main outline and all chapter folders. Now, your system is set up, and, whatever you write from this point on, will be saved to one of those file folders within the BOOK folder.
These are your first steps in the organization of files, and they are critical to keeping track of every aspect of your book. It may seem confusing until you begin to set up your system. Then, if you’re like most authors, you will have an aha moment, as you understand the logic of this system.
A book writing coach can help you with every step of writing, publishing, and promoting your nonfiction book; but few pieces of advice are as important and valuable as how to set up a perfect system of organization for your book.