Week 2: Organization and Research


Week 2A

Getting Organized

Non-fiction books can entail a fair amount of research and detail. Keeping all of this material arranged in a systematic way is important, especially if you don’t want to stop writing to find what you need. Sometimes you need that information to write!

Organization becomes essential if you want to write a book within the time-frame of this 120 day course, or if you simply want to get it done as efficiently and quickly as possible.

6 Organizational Tools

Luckily, there’s an organizational tool for just about every writer’s style. Here’s a list of six organizational tools. One might fit your needs:

1) Piles

If you like to copy or print your research, or you find yourself tearing out articles from newspapers and magazines, you are a perfect candidate for the pile method. Simply start sorting through all your “research,” and place it in piles that seem related by subject matter. (Hopefully, you can at least find all your research.)

When you are done, you will have a variety of piles, each one likely related to a particular chapter in your book. If you like, you can leave your piles neatly sorted in a place where no one will bother them. Or you can put them in labeled folders.

2) Folders

Online or off, folders represent the second easiest way to organize your work or research. You can place your research or printed draft chapters (or snippets of writing) in physical manila folders or even an accordion folder. You can also place it in a three-ring binder. Today, there are many types of nifty folders to purchase.

Online, it’s easy to create folders on your computer for a specific project or to store them in the cloud using Dropbox or some other program, like Evernote (see below).

3) Cards

If you are one of those people who like to write everything down by hand, you may like the 3” x 5” card method. Today, you can get these cards spiral bound or in perforated little tablets so you can carry them with you easily. This allows you to write down all your ideas and then file them later.

You can place them in a special card box, which is a really nice way to organize a book project, especially if you get dividers to separate your chapters.

4) Evernote

If you are more technology oriented, Evernote is a cool program that synch’s your smartphone with your computer or tablet. You can easily add your own notes, clip web pages and articles, and place them all in a “Notebook” for your book project.

Within that notebook you can create many different “notes.” All of it is saved in the “cloud.” As you write your manuscript, you can save this to Evernote as a backup as well.

Lesson on Evernote for Mac Users

Evernote for IPhone and IPads

Evernote for Beginners

Evernote on YouTube  http://youtu.be/FqyXXBmpzVk

5) Binders

If you like the idea of a binder, but don’t want to store everything online, purchase an actual three-ring binder and some inserts with numbers or pockets.

Use these to separate chapters and to hold some of your research. Print your manuscript as you write, punch it with three holes, and “build a book” as you compose.

6) Scrivener

This computer program allows you to upload all sorts of research as well as to create your manuscript (or upload your existing manuscript), and to then organize it—all in one program. If you like the card system, you’ll love this, because it has a bit of that as well—cards attached to cork boards allowing you to visually move your information around and to file things in folders.

If you like folders and binders, this is for you as well. The folders appear to exist in a large binder, almost like old Trapper Keepers. Many writers say this program revolutionizes their writing process.

Here is a video on how to use Scrivner

Another how to use Scrivner video

This is a really cool video on using dropbox, scrivner and evernote.

7) Trello:

Trello.com – Trello is a very useful and intuitive tool for organizing the flow of your book and marketing plans.  You can invite others to collaborate with you on it, track progress, track others progress and track log in and contact information.

Here is a video on how to use Trello

8) Dropbox:

Dropbox.com – Dropbox is an excellent place to store images, files and more.  Often our files become so large that we cannot send them via email.  Dropbox is cloud based.  You can share your folders within dropbox to others.

Here is a video explaining how to use dropbox.

Here is another video created for Mac users.

Write Continuously

A disorganized project can lead to disorganized thoughts and disorganized writing…and a lot of time spent looking for what you need. Believe me…we know. It can stop your fingers in their tracks.

That’s why we recommend going through the process of creating a business plan for your book prior to writing as well. It hones your idea, helps you get clear on what goes in each chapter of your nonfiction book, and focuses your writing not only on the subject at hand but on what your reader needs and wants, which makes your book marketable.

Creating a business plan serves as an important organizational step. During the process, you’ll discover what additional research or material you might need for your book to make it unique and necessary in its category and market.

Take the time to get organized first, and then write your nonfiction book. You’ll find the process goes much more smoothly if you do.

Organize Your Time and Space

While you organize all the material for your book, also organize time and space. It’s hard to write a book amidst the clutter on your desk and without a specific time allotted to writing each day or week.

You must clear out a space for your research, so it is close at hand. Unclutter your desk, which helps you think clearly and stay undistracted. And mark off time on your calendar, preferably daily, for writing periods of 30 minutes to an hour or more in length.

Organizing your time may mean organizing your life. It could mean getting a sitter, getting up earlier or staying up later, or asking a friend to take your dog for a walk. Figure out strategies to free up time.

Your Book-Writing Checklist

To write a nonfiction book, you also need to complete a variety of tasks. Some are simple. Some are more complex. Many writers never get started simply because they don’t know where to start. The overall idea of writing a book seems too overwhelming.

That’s why it’s best to chunk writing a book down into smaller tasks and organize those into a to-do list or check list.

Use the following as a basic checklist to get started writing your book—and complete it:

1) Set your intention

It’s important to declare to yourself—and possibly to others—that you intent do write a book and by when. You might even want to write a note to yourself that says, “I, __(name)__, intend to write my book, ___(title)____. I will begin on __(date)__ and finish on __(date)__.” Then sign and date this.

2) Select your topic

I’ve covered this earlier. Pick a topic that you feel comfortable with and that serves a specific and sizable market. It should also be unique and necessary in its bookstore category.

3) Give your book a working title

You can finalize this later, when you have finished your book or after #7.

4) Create a business plan for your book

To do this, using a book proposal as a template and evaluate the information you compile to determine how to make your idea as marketable as possible. We found a really good book on this subject by Nina Amir.  She refers and describes her process in detail in her book The Author Training Manual.  Evaluate your idea for marketability. Tweak your topic, angle and title as necessary.

5) Create a table of contents

Decide on both the structure and the content of your book.

6) Detail your contents

Write chapter-by-chapter synopsis. Know what content will be included in each chapter.

7) Gather your information

Do your research. Collect the necessary books. Have everything close at hand. Conduct interviews.

8) Write your first draft

Write…don’t edit.

9) Edit

Do a round or two of self-editing, then, hand your manuscript off to a developmental editor. After that, have it read by a line or copy editor and a proofreader.

Now, you are organized! You have no excuses. Go write your book!



[contactform email=”becky@instantcustomerconnections.com” subject=”Lesson 2A Questions Completed” success=”Thank you for completing the questions.” captcha=”true”]

[name label=”Name First and Last” required=”true”]

[email label=”Email” required=”true”]

[textarea label=”1. Which tools do you feel will work best for you?  Why?”]

[textarea label=”2.Please fill this out, then sign and date.“I, __(name)__, intend to write my book, ___(title)____. I will begin on __(date)__ and finish on __(date)__.”    Then sign and date this.”]

[textarea label=”3.When self publishing a book, which is what you will be doing, you will need a business plan for your book.
Part of that business plan entails setting goals and action plans.
Your goal as stated above is to finish writing your book by the date you chose.
Now we want you to set a goal for when you will publish your book: __________________________(Date)
Here are action items you will need to take:
1- Find an editor (We have several VA’s that we have used and can refer you to, or you are free to choose your own.
2- Find a cover designer. There are many resources for this, but we do have good referral sources on www.fiverr.com
3- Arrange for your cover design.
4- Determine which platforms you want to use for your book. Amazon’s Kindle and Create Space platforms are most common. You may want to consider several other platforms such as www.bookbaby.com or www.smashwords.com.”]

[textarea label=”4. A)It is very important to begin building the big picture.  How many of your books do you want to sell?  How will you do that?”]

[textarea label=”4. B)Will you:

  • Make a daily practice of blogging?
  • Spend consistent time on social media?
  • Hire a publicist or public relations representative?
  • Implement press releases to gain attention?
  • Speak at conferences
  • Teach on webinars
  • Host workshops
  • Engage in a virtual book tour
  • Create products around the content in your book or simply write more books”]

[textarea label=”4. C)Your answers to these questions will be determined by your own vision for this book, and is something for you to ponder.

Recall that we asked questions of you the first week of our training.  Those questions centered around your own goals, aspirations and vision.  Your answer will be yours alone.

We are in a group setting, for the support that comes for people gathered with a like goals and dreams.  We say this:  No comparing yourselves with others!  Be you and follow your dreams”]

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2B:  Research Checklist

 Create a market survey based on:

 FAQ pages for industry/niche forums

 Questions asked in my blog comments

 Questions asked in my help desk

 Questions asked in my email

 Review content for good subject matter

 Blog posts

 Webinars

 Podcasts

 YouTube videos

 Review reader comments for ideas

 Testimonials

 Critiques

 Find bestsellers in my niche and review:

 Tables of content

 Comments/reviews

 Find top magazines in my niche and review:

 Popular articles

 Article titles

 Reader comments/reviews

 Brainstorm 20 – 30 potential titles

 Create a working outline

 Collect and collate content according to outline

 Blog posts

 Webinar/presentation scripts

 Opt-in offers

 Video and audio transcripts

 Social media updates

 Email auto-responder sequences

 Collect any ancillary content we can use


 Interviews

 Re-printable articles

 Create a schedule

 Daily writing/reviewing

 Progress notes/updates

 Notes about missing information/potential future books

 Schedule outsourced tasks

 Cover art

 Copy-writing

 Proofreading

 Editing

 Formatting

 Monetize the final manuscript before publishing

 An opt-in offer for the “Look Inside” section

 Links to products and services throughout

 Speaking/consulting offer for the “About the Author” section

 Links to products/affiliate offers in the resources section (appendix)

 Publish and promote

 Email list

 Follow-up with list

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[textarea label=”1. What type of research best fits your style?”]

[textarea label=”2. How do you plan to implement your research?”]

[textarea label=”3. Do you know how to create a market survey?”]

[textarea label=”4. Have you created a writing schedule?  How does that feel?”]

[textarea label=”5. Do you know how to set up an opt in offer?  Do you need help?”]

[textarea label=”6. Are you interested in becoming a speaker or consultant?”]

[textarea label=”7. Do you currently have an email list?  Do you know how to build an email list?”]

[textarea label=”8. Do you want, can you afford a Virtual Assistant?”]

[textarea label=”9. Have you researched others in your niche?  Have you reached out to them?”]

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