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October 13, 2023 7 mins

In this episode, you’ll also hear:

  • Questions to ask as you organize information about your ideal reader
  • Why your book may fail to connect with your ideal readers, even if you have correctly identified the problem they are looking to solve — and how to avoid falling into this common trap
  • How and why to choose what approach to take with your outline

Are You Ready to Outline?

So far in the First 5 series, we’ve discussed the importance of:

  • Finding your fuel: You need to identify your “why,” because that’s what will keep you motivated even on tough days
  • Seeing yourself as successful: The single biggest factor in achieving your goal of becoming a published author is whether or not you believe it is possible. That means you must stand on the Word of God and believe that you CAN do this!
  • Picking your persona: Get crystal clear on who you’re trying to reach with your message. What do they value? What are their behaviors and pain points?
  • Testing your theory: Readers are only looking for answers to their questions and solutions to their problems, so before you start to write, it’s critical that you actually talk to some people who fit the persona you want to reach, and get clear on how they describe the problem they want to solve and the questions they need answered. 

If you missed those previous episodes, be sure to check them out here!

Now, let’s get into step #5: organize before you outline. That’s right — you’re almost ready to begin your outline. But here’s the mistake many aspiring authors make: they jump into writing the outline based on what they think the book should contain. 

Remember, you’re writing for an audience. You can only accomplish your goal of impacting lives if people buy your book. And people will only buy your book if they believe it solves a problem for them. 

How Does the Reader Describe the Problem?

Last week in Step #4, you talked to some people to get insight on what they’re looking for. Now it’s time to make use of that insight! 

Give yourself some quiet time. Then take all the information you got in those interviews and organize it. What themes or patterns did you notice in the responses? For example:

  • What were some hot topics that came up? 
  • What words did you hear over and over again (for example, in the weight loss and fitness space, a word that comes up often is defeated)? 
  • How do they describe their biggest frustrations and problems, as well as their dreams?
  • What does your ideal reader wish that other people understood about them and their struggles with this problem? 
  • How do they see their problem as opposed to your hypothesis of the problem?

That last question is really where things tend to fall apart if we’re not careful. You need to get clear on what makes your ideal reader feel all alone in the world at times, but too often, how an author describes the problem doesn’t match the reader’s view of the problem. You may identify the correct problem, but if you’re not describing it in a way that connects with your readers on a core level, you won’t have the impact you want. 

Because here’s the thing: You know things — important things! — that your reader doesn’t know. But they’ll only open their heart and mind to hear what you have to say if you can connect to what they believe to be true. 

Which Approach Is Right for Your Readers?

So with that in mind, it’s time to take action. Get into a quiet place, take all your notes from the conversations you’ve had, and organize them. Once you do, you’ll have a much better idea of how to approach your book and what kind of outline you need. 

You see, there are different kinds of outlines you could use, depending on the stance you want to take as an author:

  • The Storyteller: Some authors use their own journey to inspire and motivate the reader. These kinds of books end up being part biography and part how-to. 
  • The Professor: Other authors prefer to focus on teaching and walking the reader step-by-step through the process to achieve a breakthrough.
  • The Engineer: Still other authors are laser-focused on the solution and use a scientific process to get there. These types of books include a lot of facts, figures, and data. 

Each of these approaches requires a different kind of outline. So if you don’t start by getting clear on what your ideal reader needs and which approach will be most helpful to them, you’ll spend way too much time outlining and writing a book that ultimately doesn’t connect with the people you’re trying t

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