Yes, I totally understand your confusion. You’ve written a fiction and don’t understand why a book outline would be required for anything? The book is done, right? Had you written a non-fiction and created a book proposal, it would make sense. After all, in that case, you’re pitching a book you haven’t actually written yet and the publisher has a right to know what will be in it and how it will be presented. Sooooo … why do you need a book outline for a fiction?
You don’t, not for getting published or writing a book you’ve already written. You need a book outline to lay the groundwork for your marketing, promotion and publicity strategy.
Think about it. What can you do if you have a clear chapter by chapter outline of your book?
Locate a passage from your text
Recall a character’s specifics
Determine locations in the book
Determine plot events in the book
Find quotes from the book
Talk intelligently about your book
Now, let’s explore these one at a time.
- Locate a passage from your text – Why would you ever want to do that? Well, imagine you’ve just been asked to do a reading. You’ve been reading from the first chapter every time you do a reading and you realize that a few of the people coming to this reading may have heard it all before. Oh, where is that scene on the river? Was that in the middle? Nothing is more frustrating than trying to locate a passage buried in 85,000 words you wrote over a year ago. Having a chapter outline takes the pressure off for finding what you want.
- Recalling a character’s specifics – You sit at your computer with a big grin on your face because you’ve had such success with your first book, your ready to start writing the sequel! But … what was that guy’s name? How was it spelled? Was he from New York or St. Louis? Knowing as much as you can about your secondary characters saves a lot of research and repairs later after you’ve finished the manuscript. A good book outline is like a road map, helping you find, remember and confirm bits of information that can easily get lost.
- Determine locations in your book – There are several reasons to know this. If, for example, your book has an exciting event occur in Key West, you may want to connect Key West in your marketing and promotions strategy. If the event happens at a specific bar or restaurant or corner, you may want to do a book event right there. If you’re not traveling to Key West, creating a connection with the Key West bookstores may gain you a venue. If the book has a special situation happen in a specific location, perhaps you can display the book or a poster of the book there. Locations in your book can lead to terrific secondary venues for book exposure and sales. Knowing how to quickly locate those bits of information is fantastic.
- Determine plot events in the book – Again, this is wonderful to know at the drop of a hat. You may not be writing a sequel, but you may be writing a different book in the same genre. You can recall the general information surrounding an event you wrote two books ago, but are you repeating something in it? The location? The time of day or night or weather? Don’t you hate searching for hours for a little bit of information you really need about that event? Organized means time is saved. How cool is that?
- Find quotes from the book – Whether fiction or non-fiction, there will at some point be a time when you want to use a character quote. Where was that? Which scene did she or he say this or that? You may want to use it during a speaking engagement to discuss the development of that plot, or you may simply want to make that quote an identifying factor when people think about your book. It would be such a boon to easily locate that darn quote.
- Talk intelligently about your book – As we’ve discussed early in this Author Success series, being able to tell someone what your book is about in 25 words is super important. It serves as everything from a pitch to a sound bite … but your whole book is not 25 words. Its thousands of words and there will be times when you need to talk a little more. If you wrote the book over a year ago, went through the editing process with your publisher, began the sequel and/or possibly a different book all together and find yourself suddenly asked to talk about your book … you will need a few reminders. It’s only natural. You’ve moved on and if you don’t review the outline, you could come off sounding a bit confused. Talking intelligently about your book tells the interviewers and viewers or listeners a few important things.
- That you are excited about the story
- That you are thrilled to tell them about it
- That you are completely focused on what they want to know
The prospective reader really doesn’t want to know or care if you’re mind has moved on to the next project. It’s like actors doing interviews to promote a new movie. That work was done over a year ago and that actor is deep into a different role all together. He still must generate excitement for the movie he’s being interviewed about.
I do understand that creating an outline of your entire book seems like a strange, time wasting activity but trust me, as you develop your marketing, promotions and publicity strategies, everything in that outline is a reminder of yet another direction you can go. It may take some time to type out the whole outline, but the time saved down the road will be astounding.
Go on, don’t do it and you may learn the hard way that even though you know your book intimately, there’s no way on earth you remember that tiny detail you need NOW. Save yourself some frustration, come into the light and type an outline, LOL.
When you think about how many times you must refer back to your actual manuscript when developing a promotion, targeted marketing strategy, or simply trying to recall a detail for accuracy and continuity in your next book, you’ll be so glad you have an outline.
Author Success Coaching
Publicity Marketing Promotions
Author Success, A Well “Business Planned” Future
Lesson 1, But … I’m a Writer, Not a Businessperson
Lesson 2, Your Subject Hooks and Selling Handles
Lesson 3, How Long
Lesson 4, Author Platform and Book Platform
Lesson 5, Target Markets
Lesson 6. Your Exposure Plan
Lesson 7, Your Promotional Plan
Lesson 8, Your Competition
Lesson 9, Resources Required
Lesson 10, Bio and Photo