How To Write A Successful Compilation Book

Compilation books are a tool that allows authors to leverage of other people's knowledge and expertise. It is an incredibly useful technique if you lack certain knowledge or experience, and is a way of compensating for that lack of information. 

Due to their nature, compilation books can be the perfect medium for combining a mix of 'how-to' and inspirational content. Some of the ways to create a compilation book are:

Ask the right question

A book written by Professor Alan Schneider and released around the same time as the Sydney 2000 Olympics asked the question, 'What makes a champion?' Schneider sent out a proposal to a couple of hundred high-profile people saying, “Can you please write between 500 and 1,000 words on what you believe makes a champion?” From those responses, 54 were selected and put together in a book which he called, 'What Makes a Champion?'

…then personalise the answers

'What's the Most Important Lesson You've Learned in you Life?' was a similar book to Schneider's in that it posed a big question to high-profile people. However, the author of this book went one step further and asked the contributors to handwrite their answers on a personal letterhead. So for the final product, the book featured handwritten letters from people like Michael Jordanm, Whoopie Goldberg, Colin Powell and others.

Stories and chapters

Some authors collect a series of stories that revolve around a central theme. The 'Chicken Soup for the Soul' Series is an example of this. Articles can also be used in a similar manner. You can also invite people to write an entire chapter in order to provide a variety of angles for your book. This is a good idea if your book is lacking certain expertise and knowledge.

For example, if you were producing a book on cycling then you can have chapter on what to look for when buying a bike written by the owner of a bike store; a chapter about mountain bikes written by a mountain biker; a chapter about competitive cycling by a professional cyclist.

Q & A

Another way to produce a compilation book is by using an interview-like approach where questions are presented to experts. This is a way to seek out important information that is lacking in the market and provide solutions to questions wanted to know by potential readers.

It's difficult to be an expert on all things. Compilation books allow you to tap into the knowledge and expertise of other specialists. This is important if you want to cover a variety of angles for a particular topic. The key to compilation books is to identify a gap in the market and then find the people who can help you fill that demand.


Dale Beaumont is the author of this article. He is an internationally renowned book publishing expert, the author of 16 best-selling books and the creator of the Get Published Secrets Program.  

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