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Book Structure for Emerging Authors

Some of my clients over the years have excitedly embraced the idea of a structure and after we’ve together created one for their book they have enthusiastically proceeded to follow it lock-step until they came to the end of the plan, wrote “The End,” hired me to edit their book, and then run off into the sunrise of publication. Other clients, however, have stared intently at a spot on the wall just off my left shoulder when the topic of book structure has come up and then gracefully changed the subject of our conversation as soon as they politely could. We’ve created a structure for them. And it has been challenging for them to stick to it. Visionary people are always seeing the magic of greater possibility. All of which has taught me, with absolutely no judgement either way, that structure is an area of genius for some people and an area of opportunity for others.

So, to save you perhaps hundreds of dollars and thousands of hours that you would otherwise have to devote to purchasing and reading all the book structuring books available out there, let’s look at some highlights of the most common (and/or interesting) ways to structure your book.

Before we get too far into this topic, I’m assuming you have a sense of what your book is about and who the people in your target audience are. When people work with me, we do a much deeper dive into those topics and, unfortunately, the possibilities are too vast to limit within the covers of this book. And I don’t even want to bring up the value (and dangers) of researching other books in your niche to see what else is out there and what the missing pieces might be that you are perfectly formed to contribute.

There are two main distinctions we need to look at before diving deeper into structure:

Fiction

The content of fictional books comes from your imagination. Fiction is not based on facts and reality – it is something you make up. A fictional book might have facts and reality in it, but people don’t typically pick up a fiction book in order to learn something. They want to be entertained. Within the general category of fiction there are countless genres you book might fit into. Here are some:

• Action
• Comedy
• Thriller/Suspense
• Fairy tales
• Family saga
• Fantasy
• Historical fiction
• Horror
• Literary fiction
• Mystery
• Romance
• Science fiction
• Western
• Women’s fiction
• Young Adult

There are sub-genres to all of the above which serve to further categorize the type of book you are writing and the things you want to bake into the structure. Knowing your genre is important because there are certain characteristics of a book in a genre that readers expect. If you want to write a book that has mass appeal, it’s a good idea to embed those characteristics into your novel so you don’t disappoint your readers. Knowing your genre is also helpful when it comes to setting your book up on online bookselling sites and in marketing your book. But we aren’t going to examine genre or sub-genre here.

Non-fiction

The content of non-fiction books comes from your imagination. In contrast to fictional books, non-fiction books are factual. They are about something you know to be true and/or you have researched. People read a non-fiction book precisely because they want to learn something. But make no mistake, they don’t want you to bore them into understanding. That’s why being able to tell a good story is important to all writers, regardless of the type of book you are writing. Within the general category of non-fiction there are countless genres your book might fit into. Here are some:

• Art
• Autobiography
• Biography
• Business
• Cooking and Food
• Health and Fitness
• History
• Memoir
• Philosophy
• Popular Science
• Psychology
• Religion and Spirituality
• Self-help
• Science
• Textbooks
• Travel

There are sub-genres in non-fiction as well, which serve to further categorize the type of book you are writing and the way you might want to structure it. Knowing your genre is important because there are certain characteristics different genres that readers expect. If you want to write a book that has great appeal, it’s a good idea to embed those characteristics into your novel so you don’t disappoint your readers. Knowing your genre is also helpful when it comes to setting your book up on online bookselling sites and in marketing your book. So don’t ignore it.

If you’d like help writing the book you’re here to write, please get in touch! I’d love to see how I might be of assistance in getting your book written, published, and out in the world where it can do some good!

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