Phase I: Pre-writing, or How Do You Get Started?

Every book, whether it’s a magnum opus written by an experienced author, or a slender anthology compiled by someone with no previous writing experience, goes through three primary stages:

  • Pre-writing
  • Writing
  • Submitting material

Perhaps the most important, and most often overlooked of these, is the pre-writing stage. However, a thoughtful pre-writing process will make everything else easier.

STEP ONE: Clearly identify the audience and purpose of your interactive ebook. It’s easier to write if you know exactly who your reader is and what you want the ebook to do for that reader.

You may feel like you have a good handle on this, because you’ve taught your class for a while and are familiar with your students and their needs. Even if you are not writing for your own class, but rather with an eye to adoptions on the national market, it’s still important to explicitly articulate your audience and purpose, and keep both in mind at all times.

Knowing your audience and purpose will help keep the tone, level of writing, and types of interactive activities appropriate. It will guide your content and help you focus as a writer. It will ensure the ebook is accessible and student-friendly, as opposed to being appropriate for an audience of your professional peers.

STEP TWO: Review the tables of contents of competing titles. You may notice a few topics that appear in all of these. If so, these are the “must cover” topics in your discipline at this time. Curriculum committees expect them. Colleagues teach them. Potential adopters are looking for them. You will want to make sure they are part of your ebook, too.

STEP THREE: If you haven’t done so already, start gathering and organizing your thoughts about what you want to include in your ebook. There are several ways you can do this:

  • If you like structure and specificity, go with an outline.
  • If you prefer a free-flowing style, a general topic list might be perfect for you.
  • If you’re unsure how to get started, working with a graphic organizer can draw out ideas and help show how they are linked.

Your editorial team can work with you to identify the style and method that will be the best fit for you and your project. In fact, your project editor may invite a developmental editor to help with everything from organizing your chapters to selecting the specific pedagogical features that will best support your content.

Typically, authors receive developmental and instructional design support once a sample chapter has been submitted. Your project editor will coordinate these consultations as needed. However, if you would like a consultation before writing the sample chapter, just let your project editor know. They will connect you with the appropriate specialist, who will be happy to help.