Writing useful books (Template)

As I wrote in the post on Practical Digital Marketing I found this interesting book structure called "Write Useful Books" and used it to write my new book.

Here is the template I am using for my other book projects. In simple words, I just fill this to get an idea of the book scope. If you are planning to write a book together with others, then I would suggest for each of you to fill this and then get some coffee and compare the answers. You will be surprised (and in the worst case you will prevent wasting time by working on the same book with different purposes).

For books with many authors, I find the motivation to be the most interesting step.

Once you have cleared that up, defining who is the book for and who is the book not for is, for me, the second most important step.


There are 2 types of motivations according to the book.

Fill the table with your notes.

Emotional motivations (why do I want to write this book?)

Emotional motivations Description Personal Note Does this apply to this book?
Beginnings to explore, plant a flag and build a reputation in an interesting space where the author intends to remain
Closure to capture the lessons from some stage of life, allowing the author to move on
Impact to spread important knowledge beyond the author´s direct reach
Curiosity to spend the time researching, wrestling with, and deeply understanding an irresistible topic
Craft the author simply love the act of writing or teaching

Financial motivations (how will I publish this book and how will I sell it. Publishing)

Financial goal
Freedom with royalties
Increased earnings via reputation
Entrepreneurship via audience-building

Profitability: all models above are profitable depending on what you want to achieve.

Content and Form


Clear promise

What is the Promise of your non-fiction book? Be clear enough about your book promise so that people can decide they don't need it.

It may seem counterintuitive to try to drive potential readers away. But good books receive bad reviews after making too broad of a promise and luring the wrong people into buying. - Rob Fitzpatrick, page 13 of "Write Useful Books"

(write your answer here)

What should the reader expect to learn?

(write your answer here)

Decide who is not for and what does it not do.

To decide on which people should not read a book is as important as deciding who should read it. Why? Because, if you explain the foundations of a topic, an expert will not find the same content as a beginner as interesting. And, if you go for the advanced explanations, the beginner will not understand that and won't get any value from your work. There is a context for each potential reader, and we, as authors, should tell them beforehand if it makes sense for them to invest their time and money in reading our work, or if it isn't the best match right now. And the best way to do that is to clearly explain who the book is for and who is it not for.

Who is this book for (or who should read this book)

(write your answer here)

Who is not this book for (or who should not read this book)

(write your answer here)


the range of a subject covered by a book, programme, discussion, class, etc. - Cambridge Dictionary

According to the book, the scope of the book is

... it's like the executive summary of a new business. It's an as-brief-as-possible description of what it is, who is it for, and why they'll pay for it.

As a formula, it is:

scope = Promise + reader profile + who it´s not for + what it won´t cover (plus recommend-ability and longevity)

(write your answer here)

3 questions to strengthen your scope:

  1. what is your reader trying to achieve by reading your book and what will change for him/her after reading it?
  2. what does your ideal reader already know? (Which means you should not explain it again).
  3. Who is your book not for and what will it not do?


  • desirable: readers want what the book is promising.(see Clear Promise above)
  • effective: the book delivers real results for the average reader
  • engaging: the book it´s front-loaded with value, has high value-per-page, and feels rewarding to read. In other words, it does not have filled to make the page or word count higher that it needs it to be to explain something.
  • polished: the book is professionally written and presented


This makes sense. It takes time and energy to write a book, and you don't want to have the need to update it every year,do you?

  • pick a promise that will remain relevant and important for 5+ years
  • avoid over reliance on temporary tools, trends, and tactics that are likely to become outdated

Feel free to copy and paste the template.

There is a markdown version in a GitHub Gist and a Google Drive version

If you have questions, just post it in the comments, and I'll try to answer it.


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