We buy books because we’re hungry—hungry for a good story, hungry for an encouraging message.
When I consider buying a nonfiction book, I read the back cover and flip through the pages looking for the take-away. What good things can I “take away” from this book? What message, hope, or practical advice does the author share? I also find out whether the author has a conversational voice and good lead-ins. (For that last one, it’s the writer in me kicking into gear.) But I care the most about the take-away.
Pinpoint Your Take-Away
Before you write a book, identify your purpose for writing. Are you sharing hope, offering encouragement to a particular group of people, or giving practical steps for a specific plan? Once you know your purpose, write a paragraph describing what you hope the reader will gain from your book. This is your take-away. You can even expand this paragraph into an outline, detailing the main points you want to share with them and the sub-points that will illustrate and explain. Then what do you have? An outline for your book.
Feed the Soul
Don’t save all the good stuff for the last chapter in your book. Put take-away in each chapter to feed the souls of your readers. Give them reason to read every chapter and every page. Come alongside them as a friend in both your voice (style of writing) and your content, and fulfill your purpose either to encourage or to instruct. In every chapter of your book, give them something to take away with them that will benefit their daily lives. Make each chapter so well-written and organized, filled with insight and examples, that they can’t wait to read the next chapter.Great take-away feeds the soul of the reader. Click To Tweet
Maximize the Value of Your Table of Contents
For your Table of Contents, craft chapter titles and sub-headings that will interest your readers in the whole book. Give a hint at what the take-away will be for each chapter, and use the best wording to grab their attention. Stay away from using cliché phrases, and appeal to both the heart and the mind of the reader.
Types of Take-Away
Consider using these tools to create great take-away for the reader.
- Stories are a great way to illustrate your points and to feed the reader’s soul with hope and wisdom.
- Inspirational quotes often word the message you want to share in a to-the-point, memorable way.
- Bible verses use the power of God to speak into the lives of readers.
- Paragraphs offering application of Scripture or wisdom spiritually feed the soul and synthesize any explanations you may have given of God’s Word.
- Pull quotes emphasize a point from your book that you want the reader to especially take to heart and remember.
- Lists outline steps of action you want the reader to take or principles you encourage the reader to live out.
Of these examples of take-away, what benefits you the most as a reader? How do you like to learn or be encouraged? Comment below! I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Welcome to my new column. This post is the first in my new Almost an Author column called Writing Captivating Nonfiction. My hope is to explore what makes a nonfiction book captivating, enriching, and intriguing. A good book is anything but boring, and a captivating book is one that will sit in the readers’ hearts and minds long after they’ve turned the last page.