The One-Pager: Quick Brainstorming to Begin Writing Your Book

You’ve got a brilliant book idea. You’re ready to start writing, but sitting down and banging out an outline or first chapter is intimidating—it’s hard to know where to start. A good place to begin is what we call the “one-pager.” A one-pager is a short piece of writing that helps you organize your content and gives you a road map for the next steps in the editorial process. It’s valuable to you and it’s valuable to the person receiving it, whether that be an editor, writing coach, literary agent, or acquisitions professional from a publishing company.


The meat of the one-pager
There are some key topics you should address in your one-pager. Thinking of a title, subtitle, and specific genre are all helpful, but not critical at this stage. Sometimes, a draft manuscript will inform the perfect title and subtitle, and in other cases, a title and subtitle can be a road map for writing. Here’s what’s critical at this stage:

Synopsis. What is your big idea? What value will the reader get from reading? Almost as importantly, what is the book not intended to be? The synopsis is a summary of what you want your book to say and its key takeaways. Although it will likely change as you write, a drafted synopsis now provides a foundation for a first draft later.

Target audience. Sometimes an author will reach out and say, “Everyone will love my book!” That’s a red flag. When I hear that, I think, “The author hasn’t determined a target market.” And that will undermine a project from the beginning. Imagining the value your book will bring to a certain group of people makes it more targeted. It’s easier and more effective to market to, say, proponents of youth football as Merril Hoge did in Brainwashed: The Bad Science Behind CTE and the Plot to Destroy Football, millennials as George Kroustalis did in Secrets to Becoming a Financial Badass, or business leaders looking for innovative solutions as Stephen Shapiro did in Invisible Solutions: 25 Lenses that Reframe and Help Solve Difficult Business Problems.

Call to action. What should your reader do after they have read your book? Your book should have at least one major takeaway that prescribes change on an individual, societal, or industry level. This can be as simple as arguing a more successful employee wakes up at 5 a.m. every morning or as complex as proposing large-scale economic or social change.

Goals. What’s your goal in writing this book? Think ambitiously, but realistically. Becoming a New York Times bestseller is probably not feasible, and that should rarely be your “why.” What we hear more often are things like, “I have a slightly different take on a political issue of the day,” “This book will solidify my position as a thought leader or recognized expert in the field of generational difference consulting,” or “This book will lead to more speaking opportunities and wealth advising business.” Those are all great reasons for publishing a book. Your goals should align with your book’s message and be achievable.


What comes next after the one-pager?
Having a completed one-pager is a launch point for the following possible options:

-Table of Contents. A table of contents is a “how” to the one-pager’s “what”—if a one-pager provides an overview of what you are saying, the table of contents is a plan for how to make your point.

Outline. A document more detailed and expanded than a table of contents, the outline builds off and expands on the one-pager’s main ideas.

First chapter. The one-pager covers the major topics in your book so you know where to begin writing and what will capture readers’ attention.

-Full-blown book proposal. A book proposal is the document used to pitch your book to literary agents and publishing houses. It usually includes an analysis of the following: the book’s content, target audience, author bio, marketing platform, comparative title analysis, table of contents, and a sample chapter or two. A one-pager can aid your book proposal by providing a first-draft synopsis and focusing your ideas on each of these topics.


The end product
Your one-pager doesn’t have to be a formal document that addresses all the topics above line by line. It can take whatever format works for your brainstorming process. These guiding ideas can prompt your thinking on central ideas and make the blank page a lot less intimidating by giving you a place to start. Once you have the main ideas down on paper, your book has a platform from which it can launch.






As the CEO at
Amplify Publishing and Mascot Books, Naren Aryal is a recognized publishing industry expert. Naren advises authors, thought leaders, and various organizations on the opportunities and challenges that exist in the evolving publishing world. He’s guided the company’s growth from a single children’s book in 2003 to becoming one of the fastest growing and most respected hybrid publishing companies in the world. Today, Mascot Books publishes hundreds of books a year across all genres, and Amplify Publishing is a leading nonfiction imprint specializing in “big ideas” from some of the most reputable names in business and politics. 


Naren frequently speaks at publishing and business events about the importance of developing compelling content and a robust author platform. He is also the author of
How to Sell a Crapload of Books: 10 Secrets of a Killer Author Marketing Platform.

Prior to entering the world of books, Naren worked as a lawyer, advising technology companies in the Washington, D.C. area. He holds a B.S. in Finance from Virginia Tech and Juris Doctor from University of Denver.

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Case Study: The Triple Threat of Brainwashed

Headlines scream that football causes CTE, but the headlines don’t tell the whole story. A bold statement for an even bolder book that put Amplify on the map. Let’s dive into a case study on three key elements of book marketing that keep Brainwashed in the media spotlight.

Written by former NFL running back Merril Hoge (with contributions from neuropathologist Peter Cummings), Brainwashed: The Bad Science Behind CTE and the Plot to Destroy Football was hailed as “a must-read for any parent” by current Pittsburgh Steelers QB Ben Roethisberger and his wife, Ashley.

The gist?
There are hidden agendas and misinformation surrounding CTE, which Hoge and Cummings address by examining flaws in the often-cited studies and exposing the sensationalist reporting that catapulted CTE into the national spotlight.

Our goals?

  • 1. Nail the timing
  • 2. Solidify the expertise
  • 3. Go big on press (or go home)

When Hoge approached us in January 2018 with the concept, we knew that time to market was essential to capitalize on this hot and controversial topic. Oh, and we needed to get this book out at the start of those five months out of the year dominated by one other acronym: NFL.

That gave us 10 months to get the manuscript written, edited, designed, and printed, a process that usually takes 18 months or more. Our keys to success were hiring both a ghostwriter and third-party researcher who knew that timing was key, but accuracy was even more important. Taking such an alternative approach to a topic that hit the country harder than a defensive tackle required airtight research.

One of Lou Holtz’s many quotable moments was when he said that “no one ever drowned in sweat.” So once the book was complete, we hit the press offensive. Hard. One day after the book’s release, Hoge was in USA Today (and in front of hotel room doors nationwide). That same day, both Hoge and Big Ben were on TMZ Sports, proving that no outlet was too big—or in this case, too out there—for this story.

And while this was nationwide news, the NFL jerseys that bore Hoge’s name shaped our regional pitch strategy. With a career-ending concussion as a Chicago Bear, Hoge returned to the Windy City’s headlines with this piece in the Chicago Tribune.

Throughout the 2018-2019 NFL season, Brainwashed continued to make national and international news with coverage on FOX News, the UK’s Daily Mail, and more. Now that we’re in the throws of another NFL season, the conversation continues. And Merril Hodge continues to be in it. 


New York lawmakers consider ban on youth tackle football (FOX News, October 31, 2019)

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From the Publisher

By Naren Aryal

Welcome to Amplify.  

At Amplify, we publish top-quality nonfiction titles. Specifically, we’re all about business books, political and policy-related works, and current affairs issues that are starting conversations. That’s it. Nothing else.

We launched our first book in October 2018, but we’re not new to the world of publishing. Amplify is the first imprint of a company I co-founded fifteen years ago, Mascot Books. Mascot is a multi-genre house, publishing everything from children’s titles, to cookbooks, to fantasy/science fiction novels, to memoirs—and everything in between. But even book people have favorite genres, and, as CEO, I wanted to establish a new imprint focusing on the genres I enjoy most and where we’ve had growing success. In the last five years, we’ve had the opportunity to work with some really impressive authors in the nonfiction space: CEOs, subject matter experts, innovative thought leaders. A new imprint would give these authors and their big ideas a unique space in the publishing landscape and set their work apart. Amplify was born.

Amplify’s first release was Brainwashed: The Bad Science Behind CTE and the Plot to Destroy Football, a controversial look at CTE research and the way it’s represented in the media, by former NFL star and ESPN commentator Merril Hoge. In several ways, it embodies the core of what we look for in an Amplify title, beyond being well-written and thoroughly researched. Some agree with the stance Brainwashed takes, some disagree, but one thing is clear: it’s gotten people—journalists, players, and readers—talking. Brainwashed started a new thread in one of sports’ longest and loudest conversations. That’s what good books do.

In 2019, we’re continuing the momentum with The Age of Intent: Using Artificial Intelligence to Deliver a Superior Customer Experience by P.V. Kannan, the cofounder and chief executive officer of Silicon Valley-based [24]7.ai, a leader in AI-driven customer experience software and services. Slated for release on May 28, 2019, the book shares P.V.’s take on how AI is helping the world’s leading businesses attract and retain customers through personalized, predictive, and effortless customer experience by redefining the way companies interact with consumers.

At Amplify, we believe content is king. Here, you can expect to find books from leading figures in business like Tae Hea Nahm and Bob Tinker; subject matter experts like Melissa Agnes (Crisis Ready); and budding thought leaders like Dave Frankland and Nick Worth (Marketing to the Entitled Consumer). With the 2020 general elections a little over a year away, we’ll rise to meet the slew of political titles hitting the market with some of our own from both sides of the aisle. We’re looking forward to new voices, growing partnerships, and great books in 2019. I’m glad you’re here and hope you’ll come along for the ride.

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