The success of a book is measured by how many people want to read it. A good book will be read over and over again by generations. A poorly written book will probably be forgotten a few year, if not months after it is released. This is even more true for academic books or textbooks because these books are an important part of education. Information in these books has to be vetted more carefully. In order to learn how to write a book that will be used for the education of young minds, you must understand the value of good content.
Every step that goes into writing a book of this type requires careful content evaluation. Whatever information you are planning to put in your book needs to be accurate, relevant, and coherent. In order to publish a successful academic book, planning and implementation are equally important. If you want to know how to write a book that will become a textbook, here is what you should do.
Plan Your Strategy Before You Write Your Book
The first step for writing a book is, of course, knowing what you want to write about. Your total knowledge of a subject may be as deep as it is wide, but a textbook can’t be a rambling discourse to highlight your knowledge. You must know what your book is going to be used for and what content is relevant for that purpose. You might need to do a lot of research on what should go into your book. If you are planning to write a textbook for a certain course, you need to find out what the course will entail and how the information should be presented.
The presentation of the information will be determined by both the course and the education level of the students. If you present a graduate course-appropriate information in language that is suited for doctorate students, your textbook will not be very effective. This means that you should not only know what your book is going to contain, but also what a student of that course has learned prior to joining the course. How you write the book would be based on the needs of the course or syllabus, knowledge level of the students studying it, and the purpose of the book. Most of your research in this stage will be about refining your content to fit the curriculum in the best manner possible.
In order to understand your competition better, you should also consider studying what is already available in the market. If your textbook has nothing new to offer and has less information than what older textbooks already have, your book is not needed in the market. What can you offer that other books don’t? Do you have information that no one else has published yet? Do you have a writing style that will make studying fun for students? What will make your book stand apart from all the other books in the market? The answer to the question ‘How to write a book?’ may not always have to do with original content but with the presentation of old content in a fresh manner. Armed with information available in the market along with the material that is needed by colleges and universities, you should know the information your book should contain.
Once you are satisfied with the information, consider asking yourself if you can write a gist of the book and its contents. This will provide you with a plan of how to write a book when you eventually start. It will act as a framework that will help you keep track in case you start to get carried away with all the wisdom you can impart. This will also help you keep your book within an acceptable and consumable size.
Pro-tip: Speak to teachers and principals at universities and educational institutions where you plan to target your book. They will be able to provide you with first-hand information on what is needed for writing your book. If you follow their guidelines, you will have a market for your book before you even publish it.
Plan The Structure Of Your Book Before You Write It
Before you start writing your book, you need to plan a tentative structure. This means dividing the book into chapters and subheadings. While the gist helped you corral the contents of the book, planning the chapters will organise it. It will also help you stay focused when you start writing and help you arrange your thoughts into topics. You can breakdown the content you need to put down. Once it is broken down into sub-topics, you will find it easier to put the content together.
To give a simplistic example of how to write a book for a course, a school-level biology textbook would start a chapter on cells. This would be further broken down into parts of a cell, different functions of each part and so on. Another chapter might be on the types of cells, and their differences. Once different cells have been explained, the next chapter might be on how cells come together to form tissues. A biologist might not find it necessary to understand what a cell is before he talks about tissues. However, the level of knowledge a student in school has requires the textbook to break up the information into component parts to make the understanding easier.
If your research is intensive, you will have an idea of how the course teaches the subject, and you can break down the contents of your book that way. If you have an innovative method of imparting knowledge, you can play with the content and reorganise it. Remember, while you may think your radical new way of education is better, teachers who are used to teaching the subject in a certain way might not like a drastic change. Even if you do stick to the course-appropriate content, how you write your book might affect its popularity. If it is presented very differently, you might find teachers preferring to stick to the old textbooks.
Pro-tip: Find out how teachers like to teach the subject and the expected knowledge level of the students. This would give you an understanding of how to write a book by breaking it down into sub-components or chapters.
Arrange The Chapters In The Best Possible Order To Write A Book That Flows Well
Once you have arranged the contents of your book in neat bundles of chapters, you need to arrange those chapters. Unlike a story book, which has a distinct beginning, middle, and end, a textbook needs to be organised by information. If the beginning of the course is focused on basic knowledge and gradually moves on to more advanced topics, that should be how you write the book. If your textbook is aimed to be the primary textbook for the entire duration of the course or academic year, it needs to segue into the next course or year. These would be the factors that would decide how you arrange the chapters in your book.
Arranging the chapters is something there isn’t a formula for. It is different for each book. Depending on how you have broken up your chapters, you might want to arrange them from basic to complex. You might want to start with a chapter that connects to the previous level of education and end with one that leads to the next level. You know what information you are putting in the book and how you plan to write it. Based on this, you should be able to arrange the information in a manner where a flow is maintained.
Pro-tip: Arrange your chapters in a way that is consistent with the gist you wrote at the beginning. Ask yourself if this is the best arrangement to fulfil the purpose of your book. While a textbook may not have a story, the information should flow in a logical manner.
Intensive Research Is How You Write A Book That Has Complete Knowledge
While your own knowledge might be deep, additional information is how you write a book that is well-rounded. This means intensive research. The research you do will be made easier with your chapter breakdown. Since each chapter is a mini-topic, you can conduct your research chapter-wise. Find out everything that has been published on that topic. It may be in the form of books, articles, blogs, journals, interviews, reference books, among other things. The more you read up on the topic, the more refined your own knowledge becomes. It also helps you stay updated on the latest developments in the field, thereby making your book more relevant than books with older information.
The amount and quality of research you do before you start writing a book determines the quality of your book. This is how to write a book that will be comprehensive and stand the test of time. A well-written book can be published and studied year after year with minor changes to include latest developments.
Keep compiling your research chapter by chapter. You may find that some of the reference material may fit in better in another chapter. If that is the case, move it there. Even within the chapter, keep arranging the research material into the sub-headings. This will help you keep your thoughts, and your book organised.
Pro-tip: When conducting your research before you write your book, don’t limit yourself to other textbooks. These might have outdated information. Reliable online sources, magazines, and journals might be better for discovering what is new in your field.
Start Writing Your Book One Chapter At A Time
Now that you have all your information collated chapter-wise, you can start writing your book. It will be much easier to do so now that you have your information and how to break it down. The best way of writing a book is to do it chapter by chapter. Start with the first chapter, and start fleshing out the ‘skeleton’ you had prepared. This would be the framework of the chapter and its sub-headings. With research on sub-heading organised as such, completing each individual chapter will be easy.
Since you will find yourself including material from other sources, you should offer attributions as you go along. This will ensure that all external material has citations. If you leave the attributions for later, it is possible that you overlook some. While a simple oversight might not seem too bad, uncited references might pose problems later on. The worst case scenario might be your book not getting published due to plagiarism charges.
Pro-tip: Keep a track of citations and use of other people’s work. Copyrighted material needs permission to be reproduced. If you make a list of what you need permission for as you go along, you will save a lot of time later on.
Edit And Revise Each Chapter Multiple Times
After the completion of each chapter, go through it to look for errors. Check for spelling errors, grammatical errors, sentences that are unclear, and other such flaws that might affect the quality of your book. Understanding how to write a book means realising that multiples revisions are necessary for a superior product. Go through your writing and check at least three times to minimise flaws and inconsistencies.
Pro-tip: After editing the draft two to three times, let it sit while you work on subsequent chapters. Coming back to it with fresh eyes will help you catch errors that might have slipped past earlier on.
Start Including The Educational Aids That Will Go Into The Book
Writing a textbook is not just about the written word. There might be diagrams that need to be included in specific places. Similarly, graphs, tables, illustrations, and other such visual aids help make a concept easier to understandable. All of this additional content needs to be placed at the relevant locations. The placement of these is important because having a diagram or a graph next to unrelated text is not desirable. These visual aids help illustrate the point of the written word, if they are not placed alongside, then they’re both unhelpful.
Additionally, a textbook would also need a section for questions. These are designed to test the comprehension of the students, and how well they have understood the content. Questions can be placed after the end of each chapter, or at the end of the book. Either way, a list of questions needs to be prepared and placed where needed.
Pro-tip: If any of the visual aids were made by someone else, they need to be credited for it. If it is a reproduction of someone’s work, you will need written permission from them to use it.
The question of how to write a book is an often asked one, while the answer is relatively simple, the task is relatively difficult. The research of material and finding a publisher to print your book can take up to a year, if not more. Depending on the length of the book, writing can take a year to two years. In this time, the publisher might ask you to make several revisions based on what the feedback is in the panel review. These are in addition to the several edits you made when writing the manuscript. The work involved can be quite draining, and it is easy to get disheartened. However, once you have unlocked the secret to writing a book, the results can be intensely rewarding.