How to Start a Book Writing Project: Scope Management

by | Jan 7, 2023 | Writing

Welcome back to the continuing series on how to start a book writing project. In this article, we will discuss the project management discipline known as Scope Management.


As scope management goes, there isn’t a lot that pertains specifically to the writing process. However, there is this idea of Scope Creep that falls under this heading.

After you’ve defined the technical aspects of your book in the all-important book proposal, especially in the chapter-by-chapter synopsis, you just about know the scope of your book—at least you should at this point.

There are two aspects of scope that are important to any project, which includes writing a book. They are breadth and depth. The breadth describes how big your topic is. Then you have to consider how deep into the topic you intend to go.

I’ll use the nonfiction example of building a house. If you choose to write a book on the process of building a house from beginning to end, the breadth of the information will be huge, so the depth will be limited. There’s no way you could include all the details of all the trades that are involved in construction of a house. The best you could hope for in one book is a top-level summary of what needs to be done.

On the other hand, you could write a book about plumbing and limit the breadth of the scope to go deeper into the specifics of the trade. Even at that, writing about all aspects of the plumbing trade could take volumes. The same goes for electrical, which would include residential and commercial, air conditioning and ventilation systems, etc. What a tangled web we could weave on any of these topics.

Scope Creep

Scope Creep could look like this. You decide to write a book on plumbing, specifically, residential piping techniques. Then, as you’re writing, you decide that you could add a couple of chapters about lumber framing to construct walls adequate for piping. Looking back at the book proposal, those chapters weren’t included. Adding those chapters will likely increase your word count and the time it will take to write the manuscript. You’ve just experienced scope creep.

For an author, it isn’t necessarily a critical hit on the project. Rather than chalking it up to scope creep, you could simply go back and modify the book proposal and include the new chapters, schedule, etc. You’re the boss! You just have to consider what the new content is going to do to your plan.

The reason controlling scope creep is even a thing in project management is because in a huge government project, like designing and launching a rocket, scope creep can cause massive delays and cost millions of dollars. It goes for any large industrial construction project as well. It could be huge!

Back to Your Book

But back to your book. You can see that the world is not going to come to an end if you choose to add unplanned content to your book. But it will have consequences, so it’s good to at least remain aware of it and recognize it when it starts to happen. Sumpm’s gotta give.

Thank you for checking in to learn just a little more about how to start a book writing project. Follow this link to learn more about Scope Management in my book, Project Management for Writers. Don’t forget to leave a review. Thanks!

Have you experienced issues with scope creep now that you know how to recognize?

Until next time. Happy writing!


Hi, I’m Terry