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How to Get Started Writing Your Non-Fiction Book Today

Maybe you’ve been thinking about writing a non-fiction book for a while but you’re not quite sure how to get started? This is for you.

Take these three steps to start writing your non-fiction book today. The first is a short exercise you can do with a pencil (or pen) and piece of paper.

STEP 1 – Identify and Choose Your Subject

Write down three things you know how to do. These things may be as simple as:

  • giving your dog a bath
  • changing a tire on your car
  • applying false fingernails
  • cooking the perfect pineapple upside down cake

If you’d like to expand the range of your business authority and expertise by writing a book, you may write down three things you know how to do relating to the products and services your business offers.

Another example for a productivity coach might be these three topics:

  • manage overwhelm and minimize the distractions in your life
  • establish a new habit in 21 days
  • discipline yourself for a more productive year

Now that you have jotted down your three topics,  assess them based on the following, and select your book topic.

  1. Have you received compliments on your knowledge and abilities in any of the three topics?
  2. Which have people come and asked you to help them with?
  3. Is there one you feel most comfortable talking about to others and you know it like the back of your hand?

Based on your responses to the above questions, evaluate and make your choice.

Great! You’ve settled on your first non-fiction book topic. Circle it.

STEP 2 – Let Go of Negativity and Give Yourself a Deadline

Next, you’re going to let go of any negative thoughts around this project.

Many of us sabotage ourselves before we even get started on a project like this. We question whether anyone will like what we create. Or we wonder whether we’ll be criticized. We allow so many questions to filter in and we want the perfect answers.

Release all of your negative thoughts and questions around your topic and around the idea of creating a non-fiction book. Just scoop them all up and drop them outside. We’re letting them all go now. In fact, we’re making a commitment to ourselves to get this book written by _________. (fill-in-the-date) You may even want to note three milestone checkpoint dates so you can monitor your progress.

STEP 3 – Write Your Book Outline

Turn over your piece of paper. Write your chosen topic “how to” at the top of the page. Underneath that, write, “Introduction.”

In a column under “Introduction,” write “Chapter 1, Chapter  2, Chapter 3, Chapter 4, and Chapter 5, Resources, and About the Author.”  It looks like a table of contents outline:

  • Introduction
  • Chapter 1
  • Chapter 2
  • Chapter 3
  • Chapter 4
  • Chapter 5
  • Conclusion (optional)
  • Resources
  • About the Author

Use your introduction to tell people briefly what it is that you’re going to tell them about in your book, and what they can expect to learn.

Walk them through how to do whatever it is, beginning with a “Getting Started” section in Chapter 1.

You may find you need more than five chapters to give the full instruction, but assess that as you go.

In “Resources,” tell people how and where they can get the supplies they need, and share what resources you use.

About the Author” is where you let people know a little about yourself and where they can connect with you. That may be an email address or it may be your Facebook page.


  1. List three things you know how to do. Assess which you’ve been complimented for, which others have asked for your help with, and which you feel confident about. Choose your “how-to” topic.
  2. Let go of any limiting thoughts you have around getting this project done. You are getting your topic on paper. You’re telling yourself you WILL do this. Set a deadline to have your book finished. Put the deadline date in your calendar. In addition, identify three milestones to completion so you can check in with your progress periodically.
  3. Finally, using the outline model above, outline your book chapters. Start writing your introduction, where you’ll explain to your readers what they can expect to learn in your how-to book.

Congratulations! You made great progress to get your first non-fiction book written.

Don’t forget to share, in the comments below, what your topic is! What do you need to learn next?

For more expert information on writing your book outline, check out this training from my colleague, Britt Malka. She offers three outline templates in her “Fast ‘N Furious Non-Fiction.”

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