How to Evaluate Your Chapter Summaries Prior to Writing Your Book

This post is a blogged draft excerpt from The Author Training Manual (Writer’s Digest Books, March 2014). Read the previous blogged excerpt, here.

evaluate your planned content before you write your bookNo matter what type of book you plan to write, once your chapter summaries are complete as detailed in Step #6 of the Author Training Process, Decide if Your Book’s Content Matches Your Initial Vision of Your Book, it’s time to evaluate this document. If the summaries don’t synch up with previous steps in the Author Training Process, you need to go back and repeat those steps until it does. Otherwise the structure of your book will not be solid and the content you produce will not result in a marketable book.

To evaluate if you have succeeded at writing sound chapter summaries (or a sound synopsis), answer these questions:

  • Does your content match your TOC?
  • Does you content match your pitch?
  • Does your content provide the benefits you said your book would offer readers?
  • Do you have something to say, enough to say or too much to say?
  • Is the content unique and necessary?
  • Does your content target your market?
  • Will your content interest your ideal reader?
  • Is your book unique and necessary?
  • Have you told a compelling story?
  • Will it take readers on a new journey?
  • Is your book marketable?
Compare Your Content to Your Overview

Having considered these questions, determine if you need to re-angle, retarget or retool the work you did in Step#2 of the Author Training process, Know Exactly What Your Book’s About and Why Someone Would Want to Read (Buy) It. (You began reading about that step here.) Take one more look at your angle, theme and purpose. Edit your pitch, summary and benefits based upon your TOC, chapter-by-chapter synopsis, or synopsis, or both. Make sure everything works and that it targets your market—that the market remains the best one based on your content—and that your book still falls into the same category you have chosen and, therefore, your competition continues to be the same. If so, be certain your book fills an empty spot on the shelf—is unlike the competition.

Add to Your Summary

As you review your Overview, add another 100-300 words to the summary of your book, which you also wrote in Step #2, bringing it up to 300-500 words. By expanding and refining this part of your business plan, you should now discover you really, really know what your book is about. When you initially wrote the summary, you actually didn’t know what you were going to write about—what content you would include in the pages of your book. You just guessed. Now you know. Your TOC provides a rich source of information on the content of your book, but the chapter-by-chapter synopsis or synopsis provide a more in-depth description.

Be Prepared for Change

Of course, your content might change as you produce your manuscript, but what you have created in Step #6 is as close as you can get to a solid description of your book’s content prior to writing the actual book. After completing Step #6 you may discover you have made significant changes to the work you did in Step #2. If so, that means you didn’t know what your book really was about or why someone would buy it—or what content was going to be included in it—until now. And that is why I advise not writing your sample chapters or your manuscript until this point in the process. It is also why I advise starting the Author Training Process (and finishing it) instead of sitting down to write each time a book idea pops into your head and you think, “What a good idea. I think I’ll write that book.” Also, it’s important to redo this Author Training Process if your book idea changes drastically at any point.

The Author Training ManualNote: You can read additional blogged draft excerpts from my new book, The Author Training Manual (Writer’s Digest Books, March 2014) here. Only select pieces from the manuscript, a “working draft,” were posted—not the complete manuscript. Read the next post in the The Author Training Manual blogged-book series by clicking here. Purchase the book on, or at

LeaLearn how to become a successful authorrn how to create a successful book—one that sells to publishers and to readers—by developing an AUTHOR ATTITUDE and writing a BUSINESS PLAN for a MARKETABLE BOOK. Register for the AUTHOR TRAINING 101 Home-Study Course, and go from aspiring to successful published author! This course is based on The Author Training Manual. If you like what you’ve read here, you’ll love the course.

Photo courtesy of renjith krishnan |


  1. Nina: I love these posts. I’m learning so much from you as you share these chapters from your new book. Thank you so much!

    • Thanks, Francis! The first two or three chapters changed a ton from what is here on the blog, and I’m sure the book will change more once the editor gets a hold of it. Please email me and I’ll give you access to the workbook, as promised.

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