Getting Some Perspective on Your Soon-to-be-Bestseller While it is Still a Manuscript

You will have your manuscript professionally edited ultimately, but you can do a lot yourself with time and distance to self-edit and then rewrite as needed. This is the point at which your notebook will come in handy. You can work on a chapter, print it out, and read it in the context of the other work you’ve already done. You can then move to another section and keep working back and forth until you feel as though you’ve done all you can.

You will probably continue to add to and subtract from your manuscript for weeks. You’ll think of new things to say or things you’ve previously forgotten as you read and reread. You will decide you haven’t said enough about one topic but have gone into too much detail on another. So save that extra material for speaking engagements or another book or article.

If you have the time, put the manuscript away and work on other things for a month or more; then come back to it with new experiences and a fresh eye. With distance, check to see whether you’ve told a story, the manuscript is balanced in terms of the numbers of stories and the way you’ve told them, the subject matter is compelling and interesting, and the writing pulls you forward so you want to keep reading.

Ultimately your book will have many or most of these elements and generally in this order:

Front Matter
Title page
Copyright page
Table of Contents
Text (all the chapters)
Back Matter
About the author
Order form

While writing, you generally come up with preliminary titles or just refer to the chapter by its subject or even by a number. When you go back to finalize your chapter titles and headings, consider using short, clear, engrossing phrases and perhaps verbs to get your message across. This is an opportune time to look at other books to see which chapter titles, headings, and subheadings really appeal to you. Whatever style you choose, it is important to be consistent throughout. For instance, if your first three chapter titles (or headings within a chapter) were complete sentences like Define Your Topic, Write to Motivate, and Generate Sales, it would be completely inconsistent if your fourth heading or title were The Market.

When you are considering chapter titles, it is also a productive exercise to outline the entire book using all your titles and subtitles. Doing this will allow you to get a bird’s eye view of your content – whether there are items missing (you call it the three strategies, but your outline shows you only have two subheads), or whether things are out of a logical order.

We begin to lose the forest for the trees, as we get deeper and deeper into the writing of a book. Creating an outline after the fact helps us get the whole manuscript into perspective.

Just the next step to getting your best seller on the bookshelves of your readers.

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