10 Ways Nonfiction Authors Can Use Mind Maps to Plan Their Book

I am a huge advocate of mind mapping for ideation, book development and many other things, but when it comes to being an expert on this technique I turn the topic over to my colleague, author and book coach Roger C. Parker (@rogercparker). Today he provides helpful tips on how authors can use mind maps to plan books and more.

Mindmap I came late to mind mapping, after writing over 30 of my nonfiction books, two of which each sold over 300,000 copies around the world; Looking Good in Print: A Guide to Basic Design for Desktop Publishing and the original editions of Microsoft Office for Windows for Dummies.

However, if today’s mind mapping software had been available, I could written them in a fraction of the time it took me to write them! More important, I could have done a far better job of promoting them and profiting from their success.

My latest books, for example, were far easier to write because I began with a mind map and used it as the basis for writing and marketing. Indeed, whole sections of my # Book Title Tweet Book01: 140 Bite-Sized Ideas for Compelling Article, Book, and Event Titles were written right in my mind map!

What is Mind Mapping?

Mind mapping is a form of visual thinking that helps you tap into both sides of your brain. Mind mapping permits you to view your book, your writing, and your marketing from several perspectives.

Think of a mind map as a series of clouds. In the center is a large cloud, containing the title of your book. Arranged around it are smaller clouds representing the chapters of your book. Next to each chapter are the ideas and topics you want to describe in each chapter.

You can easily drag and drop chapters into a new order, as well as drag and drop the ideas from chapter to chapter, until you’re satisfied with their sequence. While doing this, you can collapse the map to reveal just the “big picture” view of just the chapters, or you can zoom in to show the details associated with each chapter. For details, see Winning Mind Maps for Authors and Marketers.

How You Can Use Mind Mapping to Plan Your Book

Here are just some of the ways nonfiction authors can use mind map to increase their writing and marketing productivity.

  1. Choosing a topic for your book. Often, the hardest part of writing a book is prioritizing your goals and ideas. Mind maps make it easy to evaluate various book topics in order to identify the book with the highest probability of success.
  2. Know your readers. Writing success requires knowing your readers and their information needs. Mind maps make it easy to analyze your reader’s characteristics, inventory their challenges and goals, and assess their priorities. This makes it easier to tailor your book’s contents to providing the right information.
  3. Identify and analyze competing books. Just as no one wants to buy a copy of yesterday’s newspaper, no one wants to buy a book that repeats information already available. By knowing the strengths and weaknesses of competing books, it will be easier to position—or differentiate—apart from competing books.
  4. Plan your book’s profits. In today’s changed book publishing market, savvy nonfiction authors know that the “real money” comes after the book sale, when you can profit from information products, services like coaching and consulting, and establish your reputation as a paid speaker. Mind maps make it easy to write a book that supports your long-term goals, and avoid making decisions that limit your options for future profits.
  5. Create a table of contents. Mind mapping makes it easy to efficiently change the order of chapters, move ideas from one chapter to another, and reorganize the sequence of ideas in chapters before you start writing. Changes made before you start writing are much easier to make than reorganizing content after you’ve made significant progress.
  6. Track your writing progress. Once you have used a mind map that you use to create your book’s table of contents, you can use it to schedule and track your progress as you’re writing. By tracking your writing progress in a mind map, you can see your progress, which creates an incentive and momentum to continue your progress.
  7. Evaluate your author platform. Before you start to write a book, you need to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of your current author platform—or online presence. This provides the perspective you need to effectively market and promote your book.
  8. Create a book marketing plan. It’s never too early to start planning your book’s marketing. A single mind map can display your book’s marketing plan, one that starts while writing your book, builds to a climax with the launch of your book, and continues the marketing momentum after your book appears. The earlier you start, the lower the stress and the more effective your marketing will be. This is especially true if you’re planning to blog your book.
  9. Plan your networking activities. One of the best ways to attract pre-publication quotes from experts in your field is to create a mind map of the influencers in your field. This makes it easy for you to follow the experts in your field on social media, meet them in person at events like workshops, and pave the way for approaching them for possible endorsement quotes or, possibly, a foreword or introduction to your book.
  10. Prepare upcoming live events. Mind maps save time preparing speeches, presentations, teleseminars, webinars, and workshops. Often, you can use your mind maps as the basis of your visuals and audience handouts. Mind maps also make it easy to prepare for upcoming interviews, whether you’re being interviewed, or you’re interviewing others.
To Learn More About Mind Maps

Attend Roger C. Parker’s Nonfiction Writer’s University teleseminar, How to Mind Map a Nonfiction Book Before You Write  on February 18, 2014 – 12 PM Pacific time. Find out more about the event and register (by joining the NFWU) here.

About the Author

Roger C. Parker head shotRoger C. Parker is a nonfiction author whose “how to” books have sold over a million copies around the world. His books, which have been translated into 37 languages, help individuals apply technology to everyday writing and marketing tasks.

As a nonfiction book coach, at Published & Profitable, Roger has introduced thousands of nonfiction authors to mind mapping—a software based approach to writing and book marketing that has multiplied his writing productivity. He also guest posts for the Content Marketing Institute and Mindjet’s Conspire blog.

Photo courtesy of: withassociates via photopin cc


  1. This really helps. I want to write a book and I’ll try to use mind mapping as suggestd here. Thank you!


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