One of the most useful tools to the non-fiction author, is the book outline, this small document – usually less than a page or two long helps maintain the focus of the book and help the book publisher to plan the marketing and sales strategy for the book.  The outline should also be supplemented by a short precis of the work and what the intention of the book is.


To generate the outline of the book start of with the book’s major purpose.

To teach small businesses how to utilise microsoft outlook to send email marketing campaigns

This should be the paragraph or sentence by which you measure all other chapter headings and all other sentences.

Chapter Headings

Next design your chapter headings – place them in order so that they form a progression towards your final goal.

  1. Why Email Marketing
  2. How to enter contact data into Microsoft outlook
  3. How to create custom fields
  4. How to create standard email letter
  5. How to select the people you want to email
  6. How to send the mailmerge
  7. How to keep up with follow-up
  8. Why not use a free CRM system

This is a good example because there is a natural progression from the idea through to the completion – which is what you would expect from an exercise book.

Don’t get too het up about chapter headings, just as long as they tell you what is in the chapter, you are fine.

Chapter Descriptions

Next, write a small paragraph for each chapter so that you know what the chapter is going to be about – in a little bit of detail…

3. How to create custom fields is all about how you can use some fairly simple tools in outlook to turn your address book into a fully functioning database.  Adding things like unsubscribe and personalisation fields.

This finished document is ready for you to pin to your wall and refer to during your writing time.  I also keep a printed copy in my bag to refer to when I am thinking about my content.

a tip I have found particularly useful is to book print a booklet A4 Folded to A5 pages with each page a chapter heading at the top and the precis in very small writing (for me at the bottom of the page).  This is useful for note taking and jotting down ideas as the book progresses.

Precis or summary

The Precis is sometimes better done in advance and sometimes after you see the chapter headings taking shape.  It’s a narrative description of what the book is about with a little bit of detail in the mix and a justification for writing the book.

Book Outline Document Free Download – this document is formatted for printing on a simple A4 duplex printer and will give you 12 pages (11 chapters) and you can amend it to add more.

Once you have completed this exercise you have the outline that most publishers like to have before they commission the work, but the main advantage is that now you have a template for making sure that your book stays focused on it’s definite major purpose.