Writing a non-fiction book in five easy steps

David Craig, the author of DON’T BUY IT! Tricks and Traps Salespeople Use and How to Beat Them, gives his non-fiction writing tips. His next book THE GREAT CHARITY SCANDAL will be published as a Kindle Single by Thistle later this month.

Having spent most of my career selling and running management consultancy projects, I had no idea how one should go about writing a book. A further challenge I had was that I’m usually writing on a subject which interests me, but about which I know little to nothing prior to beginning a book. I have found that the most effective way for me to overcome these barriers is to turn each book into a structured business project with well-defined steps each taking a set amount of time.

These are the five steps I always go through with the timing for each:

Outline planning – Spend a couple of weeks reading about the subject to get an idea of the logical flow of the book, the main sections and the likely chapters within each section. I take a fairly methodical approach. If I’m writing 70,000 words, I split that into 3 to 4 sections with 3 to 4 chapters in each section. That means each chapter is about 5,000 words. Suddenly the daunting prospect of writing 70,000 words is transformed into the much easier task of producing fourteen or so 5,000-word essays

Gathering material – Set up files (computer or paper or both) with one for each chapter. Then spend 3 to 4 weeks reading around the subject and putting any relevant material into the files for each chapter

Detailed planning – Take 2 to 3 sheets of A4 paper for each chapter, read through all the material relevant to that chapter and make short one-line notes of all the points, figures, graphs and quotes to be included in that chapter along with a numbered reference to where to find the material you will need to refer back to when you start writing

Writing – Use 3 to 4 days for each chapter – about two chapters a week. The first day is spent re-reading all the material for that chapter and then the rest of the time writing the 5,000 or so words and doing any graphs or diagrams

Review – Go back through your notes to see if there are any key points or facts that you haven’t included.

That’s it. A 70,000-word non-fiction book written in about 14 weeks in five easily digestible steps.

About article author


David Craig

For over 20 years, David Craig has worked for and competed against some of the world's best and worst management consultancies. He has sold consulting in 15 countries in Europe, US and Asia to almost 100 organizations, including Disney, Mobil, Dupont, Roche, Air France, Eurotunnel, The NHS, CapGe...More about David Craig