Writing a book can be a difficult job, but making a detailed outline makes it a lot easier.
Not only does an outline help you organize your thoughts and ideas, but it’s also a great tool for getting publishers interested in your book.
This post will show you step-by-step how to write a book outline that will make publishers want to read your book.
Understanding the Importance of a Book Outline for Publishers
Before we get into “How to write a book plan”, you must know why publishers require them in the first place.
One of the first things a publisher will look for in your book proposal is a plan. Publishers can quickly tell from an outline if your book has a clear framework, a compelling story arc, and strong characters.
A book plan also shows that you know who your target audience is and where your book fits into the market. It shows that you’ve put a great deal of effort into thinking about how you’re going to take your book to market.
Choosing the Right Format for Your Book Outline
You can make a book plan in a few different ways, and the one you choose will depend on how you like to work and what kind of book you’re writing.
Some of the most popular formats are:
- Bullet Points: This is a simple, straightforward style that works well for non-fiction books or books with a lot of information to share. Just make a list of bullet points for each part that describes the main topics and subtopics you want to talk about.
- Mind Map: A mind map is a visual tool that helps you come up with thoughts and put them in order. Start by putting your main idea or theme in the middle of the map. From there, branch out into subtopics and ideas that support it.
- Index Cards: If you prefer a more tactile method, you can write each chapter and scene on a separate index card and then put them in order on a table or board.
- Traditional Outline: A traditional outline has a hierarchical framework, with Roman numerals for main headings, capital letters for subheadings, and so on. This style works well for both stories and non-stories.
Brainstorming and Organizing Your Book Ideas
Once you’ve decided how your book plan will look, it’s time to start coming up with ideas and putting them in order.
In this stage, you’ll start to figure out how your book will be put together.
Start by writing down your main idea or theme.
Then, think of all the related ideas and subtopics that come to mind.
You can organize your ideas with a mind map or by making bullet points.
Another critical item to think about is the big picture of your book’s story.
What is the main problem that your main character will have to deal with? What are the story’s turning points? Where will the story go from here?
As you answer these questions, the outline of your book will start to take shape. You’ll start to get an idea of roughly how many chapters you’ll need, what the important scenes will be, and how the story will unravel.
Creating a Chapter-by-Chapter Outline
Once you have a general idea of how your book will be put together, it’s time to formulate a chapter-by-chapter plan. This will help you flesh out your ideas and make sure your story has a clear framework and pace.
Make a list of the chapter names or headings as a first step. Write a short outline of the main scenes and events that will happen in each chapter. Think about how each part will move the story forward and add to the themes and ideas you’re exploring.
Refining Your Outline with Feedback and Revision
After you finish your book outline, you should get tons of feedback (from people that will be honest with you).
This step refines your outline and makes sure it meets the standards and demands of the publisher you want to work with.
Here are some ways to make your book plan better:
Share your plan with beta readers. Beta readers are people who can help you improve your book outline by giving you feedback. They can give you ideas about how to organize, pace, and fill out your plan. You can find beta readers in writing groups, online writing communities, or even among your friends and family.
Ask writing coaches or editors for feedback. If you have the money, you could hire a writing coach or editor to give you feedback on your plan. They can give you skilled tips and help you make your outline better.
Rewrite your plan based on the feedback. If beta readers, writing coaches, or editors give you feedback, rewrite your outline based on what they say. Pay attention to the advice and criticism you get and make changes that will make your plan better as a whole.
Polish your plan by reading it again to make sure the language is correct and there are no mistakes.
Presenting Your Book Outline to Publishers
After refining your book outline, you’ll be ready to begin presenting it to publishers!
Here are some tips for presenting your book outline to publishers:
Before you send your plan to publishers, research the market and find publishers that are aligned with the ideas in your book. Look for companies that focus on your genre and have a history of putting out books like yours.
Each publisher has its own submission guidelines, so make sure you read them carefully and follow them to the letter. Some publishers may need a query letter or a sample chapter in addition to your book plan, so make sure to include everything that is needed.
Your cover letter should be short but convincing. It should tell the publisher who you are, why you are sending your book plan to them, and what the most highlighted parts and benefits of your book are.
Once you’ve made your book outline and cover letter, send them to the companies you’ve chosen. Some publishers may take weeks or months to look over your proposal, so be patient and follow up if you need to.