What is a book?
A book is a collection of words based on the ideas you want to share with others
A book can take many formats with regard to size, shape and length
A book can include other forms of ways of transmitting information than the written word
Business writers are used to researching their markets; they do it for the products or services they provide. But it's as vital before you begin to write as before you introduce a new part of your business.
Books are as much a product as anything else and their design can advance their progress or slow it down. By design I'm not only referring to the cover of the book or the illustrations contained in it. I'm talking about the whole of the book; the way the information is laid out for the reader. Your reader will thank you if you make this easy for them.
If you're not sure how to approach this part of building your book, here's a method to help you.
- Choose 3 books from your collection that you've found helpful.
- Look not at the information they contain but the way the books are designed – Put on your purchaser hat. Without opening the book write down some words that represent how you feel about the look of them. Happy, depressed, optimistic, curious? There's no right or wrong about this. What we're trying to find is your instinctive reaction to the look of the front and back of the book.
- Check out the size, the shape and the format – We're still looking at the outside of the book here. There are no real standard formats for books,; they come in all shapes and sizes. Measure the books if necessary for you to have an idea of sizing. Can you slip them into a pocket? Would they fit inside a small handbag? If you're writing a handy guide that you want people to keep by them, then size, shape and weight are critical elements of design.
- Now check out the inside of the book – I asked you to choose books that you found helpful. That's because I wanted you to analyze what worked for you. Look at the way the information is set out inside the book. Is it the same in all cases? Or are there differences? If there are differences work out why that is. Does the way the information is set out in the book guide you through the contents? Is it easy for you to dip into sections without having to read many pages at a time. Think about how you used it; read straight through or section by section. Was it a book where you did exercises and if so how did these work for you? Write down anything though small a detail that worked or did not. all of these when gathered together will give you insights into what you want for your book.
When you've done it for the books you liked, then try the same process with books that you bought hoping they would help you and you were dissatisfied with them. You'll learn as much from this as from the ones you liked.
Take your time doing this because you'll end up with a clearer idea of how to structure your book and getting that right means you'll write the book faster and more easily.
You might find it helpful to mock up a layout of the book. Try a section of your text in it and see how it looks. Abstract ideas may seem fine until you try to work them out. Better do it early than late in the writing process.
It's at an early stage too you need to consider any add-ons for your book such as CDs or DVDs. These can make a significant impact on the design as well as the cost of a book.