6 Nonfiction Book Writing Tips for Authors

By Robert W. Lucas

Writing a nonfiction book differs from creating fiction books. Nonfiction authors are typically subject matter experts and spend a good deal of time researching to find or validate information that they plan to address in their books. On the other hand, fiction authors have more flexibility and have more latitude to use their imagination as they create dialogue, characters, settings and other pertinent aspects of their books. The following are six specific nonfiction writing tips or strategies to consider when you write your next non-fiction book.

Build Your Author Platform. Before you even decide to write your book, spend time identifying potential readers. One you have done so; spend time developing a known personal reputation. As a nonfiction writer, people will expect you to be a subject matter expert (SME) on your topic. They will buy more books if you are a known entity. Here are several ways to help build your author platform in advance:

  • Write articles and/or blog.
  • Develop a website.
  • Create an online social media presence (e.g. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest).
  • Give presentations or deliver training programs to various groups.
  • Write white papers.
  • Conduct research and publish your findings.
  • Get customer testimonials.

Identify Your Subject Matter. If you are a subject matter expert who hasĀ  experience and knowledge, you likely have a lot of material and content already developed in articles, reports, blogs, training materials, or other materials that you have created. Capitalize on these, reword and organize the content for your book.

Research Your Topic. Before you start writing, spend time reading articles on your topic, visit websites that focus on your subject matter, and visit libraries and bookstores to identify competing books. Determine what is already in existence and decide how your content will differ and appeal to your readers. Taking this time up front to identify other content can assist in helping you decide the approach you will take with your writing and ensure that you write in an original voice. Just remember that if you decide to reference existing material written by someone else, copyright law requires that you follow legal guidelines and appropriately reference the owner of the material.

Create An Outline. To help organize your thoughts, spend some time drafting out potential chapter topics and a sentence or two about what might go into each. Use this as a guide to keep you focused as you move forward and remind you what you want to include. As an alternative to this approach, some authors will write chapter ideas or topic titles on sticky notes that they paste in order onto a dry erase board or wall, along with individual concepts or subtopics that they might include in each chapter. This allows them to adjust content insertion as they move forward with their first draft of the book. For example, they might discover as they get into the flow of writing that a specific sub-concept makes more sense in a different location or chapter. They simply move that sticky note to the new chapter heading area and then start writing. A nice aspect of this approach is that if you do not feel like addressing a specific topic one day when you sit down to write; you can simply skip is and move to another chapter topic that you have thoughts on or prefer.

Develop a Writing Schedule. Unless you are under a contract to write content for someone else (e.g. ghost writing or agreement with a publisher) you can usually create a writing schedule that matches your lifestyle and personal preferences. This is especially true if you plan to self-publish your masterpiece. Even so, it is wise to be consistent in planning time on a regular basis that you dedicate to writing. Otherwise, you may end up with an unfinished work sitting in your computer or on a desk for lengthy periods of time and in some case may never get it completed. While it is not necessary to write every day for hours on end, you should probably still plan a specific length time of day based on your personal circadian rhythm (your internal clock) so that you can maximize your periods of productivity.

Get Expert Help. At some point, once you have completed your manuscript and believe that you have checked it adequately for content, syntax, grammar and punctuation, call in experts to assist you. One big mistake that many authors make is to believe they are capable of doing it all themselves. Even if you have a degree in your primary language, seek out a professional editor to go through the document to make corrections and point out possible problem areas. This is a good investment and failure to heed this advice often leads to an unprofessional final product that readers may ultimately ignore or give negative feedback on.

Thanks for reading.

For additional book ideas for nonfiction authors and strategies on how to build an author platform, generate revenue and be more successful as a nonfiction writer, check out Make Money Writing Books: Proven Profit Making Strategies for Authors.

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