What are some tips for writing a nonfiction book?
When I’m asked, “What are some tips for writing a nonfiction book?” I narrow it down to the top three foundational pieces, but there are many, many tips based on your: who, what, where, and why? The top three tips, in my opinion:
- Determine and fine-tune the book’s theme.
- Create a plan that includes content considerations and writing schedules.
- And, the often forgotten and most important step: Start writing.
First, choose your book’s theme
This seems like a basic step that needs no explanation, however, I wouldn’t bring it up if that were true. I’ve worked with clients who never gave any or gave very little thought to what the book’s theme or main message was and how that matched the reader’s needs. These clients come to me when this lack of consideration becomes troublesome and rises to the surface to kill book sales because it’s unclear to readers what book subject they’re buying. Stores won’t stock the book either, because the stores don’t know where to shelve it. If a nonfiction book title, subtitle, back cover text, and sales categories don’t make sense or work together as part of a clear marketing strategy to reach a specific target reader, you’ll hear the flushing sound of all your time, energy, and money going down the drain.
Second, create a plan
A plan that includes considerations for the book’s content such as finding supporting research data, gathering case study notes, collecting client testimonials, streamlining processes or systems, as well as graphics, drawings, and any other materials needed. Make a list, check it twice, and proceed to collect all of these tools in one place for easy access while writing.
Some writers sit down and just start writing what comes to mind on any given day. This isn’t too damaging if they hire a good content editor to help fix these issues. However, if the book doesn’t get thoroughly edited for content and continuity, it can cause irreparable damage to the author’s reputation, which is the opposite of the goals for writing the book.
While flying by the seat of your pants might sound like fun—and might actually be in other instances—a better, more sellable and marketable book product is created with an organized action plan. Writing a book with a solid, logical action plan with all the information needed to write the book gathered in one place actually makes the writing process easier.
Finally, make a time management plan
Sit down and write X number of times per week for an estimated Y number of minutes. It sounds crazy to tell you that many people create the content plan and gather all the necessary bits and pieces only to get overwhelmed and not write the book.
My words of wisdom for writers who experience this stall is to remember, “How do you eat an elephant?” Answer: “One bite at a time.”
So, work on one part of the book today or this week. Then move on to write the next part the next week. Then the next. And then the next until the book is written. You can write a nonfiction book from front to back, start to finish, or start with a chapter in the middle at a point that is calling to you today.
When you do a good job working out the details and completing step one and two, step three, the writing, is easier to do.