After writing close to 100 books, I would put the number of clients who didn’t have the structure right when they started at 100. This is because it is difficult to know how to structure a book, and an author, especially a new author, couldn’t possibly know how without some serious work.
This is because they think the book is supposed to be about them and what they know. They have something to say, and they believe that if they say it, people will be helped.
This is close, but not quite right. What most authors (of nonfiction) don’t realize is that they have it backwards. They haven’t thought about the reader. They don’t know who is going to read their book. They haven’t thought about the pain the reader is in that would make them look for a book and solution like theirs.
Answering these questions is the first step.
Who is the reader? Is it you before you knew what you knew? How will they relate to you?
What is his or her problem? Do you know that your problem is shared by others?
What are the lessons behind the story you are telling?
How can the reader receive those lessons in an order that transforms them?
What kinds of promises can you make that you can actually deliver on?
Why, why, why is this so important? What will happen if they listen to you? What will happen if they don’t? Can you convince them?
This is the first thing I do with my ghostwriting clients, and I recommend you don’t start a rough draft until you do this work.