2 Easy Steps to Write a Great Book Outline


Editor's note: This series of blogs addresses the questions we are most frequently asked at SAS Press!

It worth spending some time on this. Arguably, this is one of the most important parts of the book. The table of contents and outline provide the blue print of your book – a wonderful tool for putting your thoughts in order and referring back to when the inevitable writer’s block occurs. Together they provide the bones of the book, the goals of each chapter, and remind you of your audience.

1. Compile a list of your planned chapter headings
This will eventually make up your table of contents for the book. How many times, when making a book purchasing decision, do you first flip through the table of contents? For most people, this is the first thing that they look at, after the cover. The earlier you can hook the customer the better. So remember this when putting it together! Make sure you include the key terms that a buyer would be looking for in a book on your topic.

The table of contents is also your strategy for how you are going to educate your readers in the skills that they want to accomplish, and that you have promised in the goals for the book.

2. Fill in the detail
This will become your outline. The outline should be detailed enough to help you structure and write your manuscript. Here are some helpful tips to develop a detailed outline:

  • Provide a summary under each chapter heading of what you plan to include
  • Add subheadings to show how you plan to break this information down

Not only does an outline provide you with a framework for your book while writing, it also includes all of the relevant information that SAS Press needs in order for us to completely envision the end product and decide whether or not your book is a good fit with our program. Also, it’s worth remembering that if you can put together a great outline, the chances are that you will write a great book!

Once we have reviewed your outline, we will send you feedback and, if necessary, we will give you advice on how to develop your outline further.

Learn more about submitting a book proposal.

Looking for more tips on how to get started? Hear what our authors have to say about starting your first book.

Too Busy to Write? Review Instead!

If you have technical and teaching abilities but are too busy to write a book, we are always looking for qualified technical reviewers to help with our book development process! Reviewers receive a copy of the book when it’s published, book credit to be used in the SAS Store, and much gratitude from SAS and SAS Press authors for your help! Learn more about how to review one of our books.


About Author

Sian Roberts

Publisher, SAS Press

Sian is currently Publisher at SAS Press. She has over 20 years of publishing and marketing experience in technology and holds a BEng in Electronic Engineering from Brunel University, London, UK, and a MSc in Cognitive Science & Intelligent Computing from the University of Westminster, London, UK. When Sian is not busily leading SAS Press, she is a devoted soccer/baseball mom to her two boys and walking Chuck, the family chocolate lab.

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