I’m your ally in developing good content — lots of it. 

If you’re an idea entrepreneur, then you make a living from your ideas. You monetize your knowledge through activities such as writing, speaking, presenting, consulting, training, and teaching.

For 25 years I’ve worked as a writer and development editor with idea entrepreneurs who want to publish books. Over and over again, I see them run into the same obstacles:

Skimpy content. In his book Breaking Out: How to Build Influence in a World of Competing Ideas, John Butman notes that you “need to build out your idea with analysis, stories, facts and data, references, and examples.” Do you have enough supporting material to talk about your ideas for a full day without repeating yourself? This is what you’ll need, and many aspiring authors and speakers don’t have it.

Weak content. It’s all over the Internet: Stale stories. References to outdated or poorly designed studies. Misattributed quotes. Factual inaccuracies. Mindless recycling of information from second- and third-hand sources. Ideas that are illogical or unsupported by evidence. I refer to this as content that’s in a coma. Sean Blanda calls it the bullshit industrial complex. If any of these problems creep into your work, your credibility takes an immediate hit.

Hidden content. Idea entrepreneurs are brilliant people who often struggle with information fragmentation. Their content is spread all over the place — in blog posts, emails, social media, note-taking apps, PDFs, Office documents, handwritten notes, and the occasional napkin. Like these folks, you might already have the raw material for many articles, books, and presentations. The problem is that your information is stashed away in forgotten places.

Content that’s locked into one medium. Podcasts and videos are flourishing on the Internet, and they’re useful for your online platform. But if you rely on them too much, you shut out many potential followers: Not everyone has an hour free to listen to your podcast, and they can’t skim a video. Reach more people by presenting your ideas in text and images (transcripts, blog posts, books) as well as audio-visual media.

I help you solve these problems through the practice of personal knowledge management:

  • Capturing information from a variety of credible sources
  • Curating the most useful information in a centralized, continuously updated, and searchable collection of notes — your “idea bank,” commonplace book, personal knowledge base, or “second brain
  • Creating a stream of publications and presentations based on your notes

These activities can increase the quantity and quality of your creative work. You’ll go from piles of files to finished manuscripts. Over time you gain clarity, credibility, and content to monetize.

I’m particularly interested in developing books for behavior change — a term that I prefer to “self-help.” As a “workbook doctor,” I craft texts with exercises, journal entries, and other interactive elements. These help readers move through a cycle of learning — from observation and reflection to planning and action.

To find out more, email me: doug.toft@gmail.com


My background and experience

I have an M.A. in instructional design and have been writing professionally since 1979. I’ve worked with Cengage Learning, Houghton Mifflin Company, Hazelden Publishing, Mayo Clinic, UnitedHealth Group, and other organizations and individuals.

Since 1989 I’ve been the contributing editor for the Master Student Series of books published by Cengage Learning. Becoming a Master Student by Dave Ellis is America’s best-selling college textbook, now in its 16th edition.

Other books in this series include Becoming a Master Student: Concise, From Master Student to Master Employee, Becoming a Master Student Athlete, Master Student Guide to Academic Success, and The Essential Guide to Becoming a Master Student.

My books include:

  • Career Planning Supplement to Becoming a Master Student by Dave Ellis, Stan Lankowitz, Ed Stupka, and Doug Toft, Houghton Mifflin, 2002.
  • Helping Chronically Addicted Adolescents: Problems, Perspectives, and Strategies for Recovery by Cardwell C. Nuckols, A.G. Porcher III, and Doug Toft, McGraw-Hill, 1994.
  • The Caregiver’s Journey: When You Love Someone with AIDS by Mel Pohl, Deniston Kay, and Doug Toft, Harper San Francisco, 1991.
  • The Disease Concept of Alcoholism and Other Drug Addiction by Norman Miller and Doug ToftHazelden, 1990.
  • HIV: What You Need to Know by Dorothy Flynn and Doug Toft, Hazelden, 1989.