The biggest challenges new authors face when writing a brand-building book is the need to organize their ideas, followed by the need to track their progress and maintain their enthusiasm.
Here’s a simple, affordable set of low-tech organizing tools that will pay big dividends as you write your first brand-building book…tools that you continue to use as you write your follow-up brand-building books.
Sometimes the best idea writing tools are the simplest–and the least expensive!
Important organizing tools
For less than $25, you can visit a “big box” office supply store, like Staples, or an online vendor, like Avery, where you can purchase a complete set of organizing tools for writing your book, including:
- 3- ring binder. Use the binder to store your manuscript, and other documents, as you write your book. Choose a View binder with a clear plastic cover allowing you to insert a cover describing the contents of the binder.
- 3-hole punched copier paper. Get in the habit of printing updated copies of your manuscript at the end of each writing session.
- Tab index dividers. Use numbered tab dividers to permit easy access to each chapter of your book. Use Write-on tab dividers for indicating sections of your book, like front matter (acknowledgments, foreword, introduction, and table of contents, and end matter (glossary, resources, and author background).
- Spine inserts. An important, often-overlooked detail, spine inserts permit you to quickly locate the binder you want when it is stored in a bookcase.
Here are some recommendations and buying tips, based on years of experience:
- Size. Although binders are available in a variety of sizes, I recommend 2-inch binders as the ideal compromise between capacity and easy access to your manuscript printouts. I find 3-inch binders are significantly heavier and less comfortable to hold while reading.
- False economy alert! Avoid the temptation to save money by not choosing a binder without a View cover. If you purchase additional binders, you’ll find it difficult to choose the desired binder when you’re in a hurry.
- Types of rings. I have found that the Avery Easy-Turn binders are easier to use than the Avery D-Ring binders when going directly from page-to-page, or chapter-to-chapter.
- Colors. If you need more than one binder, i.e., if you’re working on multiple projects at one time, or want to create a separate binder for print-outs of your blog and website planning and SEO, you can choose different color binders for different categories of projects.
Why authors need 3-ring binders
The obvious reason why authors writing books to build their personal brand should use 3-ring binders is to work as efficiently as possible and make your book as tangible as possible, as quickly as possible.
An author’s search for efficiency begins at the earliest, topic-exploration stages of writing a book. At this stage, you can use the numbered chapter dividers to organize print-outs of mind maps and worksheets used for each chapter. Even if you’re just writing ideas out in long-hand, it helps to store them in one place, organized by chapter for easy reference.
Books that exist only as files saved on a computer are difficult to relate to as as published books. It’s harder to get a sense of the finished book, from the reader’s perspective, when you’re only seeing one screen at a time on your monitor. But, when you can page through your manuscript, page by page and chapter by chapter, you gain a new perspective on how effectively you’ve organized your book.
Finally, editing is harder on screen; errors are easier to locate from printed copies. Reading a print-out of your manuscript is far more revealing of problems relating to sentence structure and length, missing words, or duplicated words.
Tracking your writing progress
Most of all, files stored on a computer don’t provide a meaningful way to track your progress, which is necessary for maintaining your enthusiasm while writing your book.
However, a 3-ring binder containing print-outs of your manuscript grows a little thicker each day, and a lot thicker each week. As you print-out what you’ve written at the end of each writing session, and insert it into your binder, you feel a sense of progress as you see your binder continually getting thicker.
Binders and writing rituals
After writing 40 books, I’m more and more convinced that a great deal of writing and publishing success is based on establishing and following rituals. To me, one of the great joys of life is the trip to the local office supply store to purchase a new 3-ring binder and dividers, then going back to the office to set up my new book by creating a cover and spine. When I’m finished, I enjoy the excitement of starting a new project, not knowing where it’s going to take me or how it’s going to turn out. Likewise, at the end of writing sessions, I enjoy the ritual of printing out what I’ve just written, and inserting it in the right place in the binder. Am I acting foolishly? Perhaps. Yet, I suspect a lot of other published authors share similar writing rituals. What are yours? Should I explore the topic in future blog posts? Share your rituals and comments, below.