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Whet a Reader's Appetite

Get the attention of an editor – and readers – by using chapter titles that pique their interest. Don’t just call them “Chapter One” and “Chapter Two.” Make your chapter titles inviting and descriptive. Come up with titles that succinctly communicate a point – while also being fun, eye-catching, or pithy.

  • Avoid dull narrative chapter titles like, “How to Get Started Buying Real Estate for Profit.” Try, “Make the Mortgage Lender Pay You!”
  • Don’t confuse the reader. “Beam Me Up, Scotty,” in a book on real-estate transactions won’t make sense even if you’re a dyed-in-the-wool Trekkie.
  • Use subtitles to clarify points.

Tip: With my Dojo Wisdom series, each chapter title is the name of the lesson in the book. 100 chapters = 100 titles = 100 lessons!

Building the Bones of Your Book

Once you’ve developed an overview that describes what your book is about and who’ll be interested in reading it, you’ll need to create a Table of Contents (TOC) outlining the order of the chapters and describing what those chapters will contain.

This is the backbone of your book, and it showcases the organization and scope of your material. In other words, this is not the time to be coy or mysterious – the editor or agent should be able to see clearly what you’ll be including in the book, how it will be organized, and even why it will be organized that way.

Take time to think about and divide your subject into chapters and to organize those chapters in the most descriptive, exciting way possible. The TOC should answer these questions:

  • What information will you present in the book?
  • What does the reader get out of each chapter?
  • How will you clearly present your content?
  • What information will come first and why?
  • What’s the “story” you’re telling? How does the book build from beginning to end?
  • If the book is based on modules that can be read out of order, are related topics grouped together for easy reference?
  • What materials will go in the back of the book – appendices, resource lists, etc.?

Once you’ve nailed down the organization of the chapters, you need to describe what’s in each chapter. Sum up the chapters in your book so that the editor can’t wait to read them.

  • Keep each chapter summary to one page, even one paragraph (or less), double spaced.
  • Give the title of each chapter (remember to keep it snappy!)
  • Organize each chapter summary so that the editor or agent can easily see what information the chapter will contain, what the reader will get from the chapter, how you’ll present the information and the order in which the information will appear.
  • Think “story.” Arrange chapter content so that it has a beginning, a middle and an end.
  • Include descriptions of “extras” – exercises, resources, call-out boxes, success stories, case histories and more.
  • Use action words to describe the content of each chapter.
  • Name facts, cite statistics, and give quotes to punch up each chapter summary.
  • Make the summaries easy on the eyes – create lists, bullet points and use other means to draw attention to important points. Editors are busy and may skim, so you want them to get the most essential information immediately.