How To Write A Nonfiction Book

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Write a nonfiction bookDo you want to write a nonfiction book that will allow readers to learn about a niche market that only you understand well? Many people have a unique skill set and knowledge that sets them apart from everyone else in their field. If you’ve reached a level of success, it might be time to write a nonfiction book!

Help others achieve their goals in your given field of expertise.

Pick a topic

Some people want to write a book but have no idea what to write about. Or they have a concept, but all their ideas don’t quite fit and the words just don’t flow. The first step is to pick a subject you have specialized knowledge about.

Here are some questions you can ask yourself to get started:

  • Is there a subject that you know about that others don’t?
  • What really interests you?
  • What could you write about that would help your business?

It’s important to pick a subject that will capture your readers’ attention and hold it. You can select a target niche market, but you will need to make sure your book will appeal to those people.

One day, about a year ago, a lady called and asked if I would help to write her memoir. After speaking to her I determined that her life story would not make a good book. Not everyone does. However, she had a wonderful niche market, a side business that was flourishing. I advised her to start working on a nonfiction eBook about that.

Determine the problems your reader needs to solve

write a nonfiction book to help others solve their problemsYour readers will pick up your book because they need to solve a problem or get answers to questions plaguing them. Figure out what these issues are so that you can help them.

The first step will be to determine who your reader is. “Everyone” is not a good answer. It’s way too general.

In the case of Chess Is Child’s Play – Teaching Techniques That Work, we determined that our primary readers were would-be parents who do not play chess. Yes, the book would appeal to grandparents and educators, as well as well-established chess coaches, but they weren’t our target readers.

With Joshua’s Missing Peace, the target market was parents of children who were having a medical crisis. Of course, I want all parents to read our book, but realistically parents of children in similar situations to Joshua’s would be searching for this book.

Find out who your reader is and then write the book to that person.

Create a table of contents

Before you start writing your book, you need to create an outline or table of contents. Consider what your readers will want to learn and put the information in an order that will help them gain knowledge quickly, making sure that each concept builds on the previous ones.

Next, it will help you to write down paragraph summaries for each chapter. Ask yourself, Why do I feel a certain subject deserves a spot in my book?

Once you have this written, note the subheadings for each chapter. Think about the best way to break up the chapter, so that people can easily understand and apply the information you are giving them.

Write and write and write

write a nonfiction book today

The next step is where some people fall off. You must roll up your sleeves and write. Make regular progress and do not allow too many breaks between writing sessions.

It might help to keep a log of how many words you write each day. Make a game of it! Create a target. See if you can write something each day, setting a minimum number of words to be written, such as 500 words per day.

Do not edit as you write, just get all the information out of your mind and onto your laptop. There will be time to edit later.

eBooks can be any length these days, but shoot for 50,000 words if you can. That will be around two hundred pages.

If that’s too much, go for a mini-eBook.

Hire an editor or ask your friends to read your book

After you finish your first draft you can go through and polish and edit. You’ll catch a lot of errors on your own, improving the manuscript through this process, but most writers need a second set of eyes on their work.

You may need to hire an editor. If you don’t have the money, try asking a few friends to read over your manuscript, looking for errors and typos.  The more people you can get to read it, the better.

Don’t worry too much about learning how to write a nonfiction book. Just get out there and start writing. I bet you have a specialized area of knowledge that people want to know about. Start writing and don’t allow yourself to stop until you’re done!

Additional articles you might find helpful:

How Much Does It Cost To Hire A Ghostwriter?

Your Guide to Hiring a Ghostwriter

Do you need help writing a book?

Working with a Ghostwriter – What steps should you take?

18 Comments

  1. Jose Bonilla

    Laura I love that you are so “real” about what you cover. I will keep you in mind when I am looking for a ghostwriter for my next book…

    Reply
    • Laura Sherman

      Thank you so much! I look forward to chatting when you’re ready!

      Reply
  2. Daron Henson

    Interesting. I have written an, as of yet, unpublished book. It is on a comparative sociological study of Los Angeles discussing the many differences of culture in different areas of the city. What I learned is: write about what you and few others know about. Also, finding a particular niche to market the book is very helpful. Just wanted to add my knowledge to everybody else’s. I hope it helps.

    Thank you.

    Reply
    • Laura

      Exactly! If you can find a niche, which is unique, and share your knowledge, you will have a readership!

      Reply
  3. Jer

    I took classes from Bruce Ballenger. He has a couple of great books on how to generate nonfiction topics and write essays. A lot is geared toward the college composition classroom, but helpful nontheless.

    Reply
  4. Kelly Wade

    Hmm, seems interesting that someone who wants to write a book wouldn’t know how to write it. I don’t know how successful a book that has to be forced to be written would be. Then again, I’m no author what so ever. It seems like getting inspiration from the things you like to do would be the best place to start.

    Reply
    • Laura

      Not everyone who writes a book is a professional writer. Many people want to write a book and can’t afford a ghostwriter, so I like to give tips in my blog to help them along. Thanks for writing!

      Reply
  5. Susan Cooper

    Writing a book that will resonate with others is not an easy thing to do. What my seem interesting to me/you may not be as interesting to others. You really have to step outside of yourself to see how others perceive your ideas. Hiring the right editor helps but asking others that have little to no vested interest in your project can give you a great deal of insight as to how the general public may perceive your subject matter.

    Reply
    • Laura

      Yes, good editors are worth their weight in gold! I also like to ask a team of readers for feedback. It’s very interesting to see what they have to say!

      Reply
  6. Morgan Decker

    Great quick tips on how to write a book! The brainstorming process is always the most difficult part, but it seems like you’ve made a map to help people overcome those obstacles. Awesome post.

    Reply
    • Laura

      Thanks! I love brainstorming with a client. It’s a fun and creative part of the process. Thanks for your kind words!

      Reply
  7. Jon Jefferson

    It is great advice to write and edit later. We try so hard to get it right the first time that we tend to find frustration instead of finished work.

    Reply
  8. Leora

    You have convinced me that I probably won’t be writing a book anytime soon. It takes me long enough to compose a blog post. But you have good advice for those among us that dare.

    Reply
    • Laura

      Leora, it isn’t easy to write a book, which is why I have a thriving business. 🙂 However, I would encourage you to try if you have a book in you (and I suspect that you do). It doesn’t matter how long it takes, as long as you make steady strides.

      Sometimes, people hire me to coach them along. I am a bulldog when it comes to deadlines (and sometimes you must set your own deadlines to speed up the process)!

      Thanks for writing in!

      Reply
  9. Catarina Alexon

    Sound advice Laura.

    Would like to add that people who are not writers should definitely pick a ghost writer. The internet is full of texts written by people who cannot write. Nobody reads what they have written and the same would happen if they write a book:-) If they use a ghost writer though, they may just produce a bestseller.

    Reply
    • Laura

      Thank you, Catarina! Yes, many people use a ghostwriter for this reason. Some people tell me they think it would be cheating, but it really is done every day. I have no problem ghostwriting a book for someone and turning over all rights to them. They are the author!

      Reply
    • Laura

      Thank you, Paul!

      Reply

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