9 Things to Know Before Writing Nonfiction Books

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Sales advantages of writing nonfiction books
Ask how your nonfiction book helps readers 
What if your book topic already has been done?
Thinking up a title that sells your nonfiction book 
Seek endorsements for your nonfiction book 
Write articles to promote your nonfiction book

Professional Book Editor: Having your novel, short story or nonfiction manuscript proofread or edited before submitting it can prove invaluable. In an economic climate where you face heavy competition, your writing needs a second eye to give you the edge. I can provide that second eye.



6 Ways to Improve Your Nonfiction Book

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Don’t use pompous language in nonfiction book
Strike conversational tone in nonfiction book  
Four tips for writing accessible nonfiction books
Take the “I” out of your nonfiction manuscript 
Use creative fiction elements in nonfiction book  
Write end of chapter summary in nonfiction books 

Professional Book Editor: Having your novel, short story or nonfiction manuscript proofread or edited before submitting it can prove invaluable. In an economic climate where you face heavy competition, your writing needs a second eye to give you the edge. I can provide that second eye.



Editing client publishes women’s health book

A recent editing 41bxyrqCOzL._AC_US218_ client of mine has published the latest edition of her women's health book. Sherrie Palm’s "Pelvic Organ Prolapse: The Silent Epidemic" takes a hard look at a common but rarely discussed women’s health concern. There are more than 300,000 surgeries for POP annually, and an estimated that 50% of childbearing women experience this condition. Palm’s personal experience helped her understand all aspects of this common but seldom understood female health condition. "Pelvic Organ Prolapse: The Silent Epidemic" explains the condition, the treatment options available, how POP impacts a woman’s sexuality, and how to self-care after surgery. Palm is the founder/CEO/Executive Director of the Association for Pelvic Organ Prolapse Support. The book is available online in paperback or ebook.

Professional Book Editor: Having your novel, short story or nonfiction manuscript proofread or edited before submitting it can prove invaluable. In an economic climate where you face heavy competition, your writing needs a second eye to give you the edge. I can provide that second eye.



7 Great Tips on Writing Your Nonfiction Book

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How to structure your nonfiction book
Create a basic outline for your nonfiction book
Forewords, prefaces and introductions 
Use appendix to add extra info to your book
Writing your nonfiction book's bibliography
How to construct an index for a nonfiction book
Great formulas for writing a nonfiction title

Professional Book Editor: Having your novel, short story or nonfiction manuscript proofread or edited before submitting it can prove invaluable. In an economic climate where you face heavy competition, your writing needs a second eye to give you the edge. I can provide that second eye.



Take the “I” out of your nonfiction manuscript

Avoid using 0066 I in your nonfiction manuscript.

There are several reasons why I is best shunned. First, readers probably are not as interested in your story as in your tips or message. You still can tell your story, just focus it so the reader can relate, and be quick about it – or instead tell the story of a friend or client who’s had the same experience. Further, I makes the author sound conceited, as in When I released my first five books, each of them hit No. 1 because I followed my Super Promotion Advertising Method that I devised all on my own. That’s a real turnoff to readers. Much better would be Dozens of writers’ first releases have hit No. 1 after utilizing the Super Promotion Advertising Method. In addition, I sounds like you’re selling something; the just mentioned I sentence reads like a pitch while its rewrite is more informative. Finally, use of you rather than I shows your concern for the reader. I’ve spent years topping the bestsellers list places the focus on the author’s success while You too can top the bestsellers list suggests the readers’ needs are your primary concern.

To fix I sentences, read through your manuscript and circle every appearance of I. Look at each of those sentences and replace them with you statements. For example, this I sentence…

Eventually I will experience a breakthrough. But it probably won’t happen today, and it probably won’t happen tomorrow. If I expect to have a breakthrough everyday, surely I’ll be disappointed.

…could be replaced with…

Eventually you will experience a breakthrough. But it probably won’t happen today, and it probably won’t happen tomorrow. If you expect to have a breakthrough everyday, surely you’ll be disappointed.

By the way, my is an I word, as well, though usually appearing less often in manuscripts than I.

Professional Book Editor: Having your novel, short story or nonfiction manuscript proofread or edited before submitting it can prove invaluable. In an economic climate where you face heavy competition, your writing needs a second eye to give you the edge. I can provide that second eye.



Why you must research your nonfiction book

If you’re Business-1209705_640writing a nonfiction book for the first time, you’ll soon find that can’t rely on memory alone. Passion for and even expertise in a subject won’t be enough to carry the book. You will need to spend time researching it.

The most important reason for doing so is to ensure accuracy. Messing up the details is simply too easy. You wouldn’t want to say something is ranked third when it’s actually fourth or to misstate a study’s findings. Indeed, every assertion you make that isn’t common knowledge should be found in some reputable publication or database that readers can access. With every inaccuracy readers find in your work, then the more easily they can pick it apart and dismiss it, even if your main points are compelling.

Research also allows you to strengthen your arguments through specific facts and expert opinions. Rather than asking the reader to rely solely on your opinion, by providing statistics and quotations from other experts you demonstrate that the argument isn’t only your own. When verifiable truths and others in the know bolster at least the underpinnings of your claims, you stand on a quite solid foundation.

You’ll also be able to stay current on the latest studies and even issues in your book’s topic. Earning a degree in a profession as recently as ten years ago can mean you’re not up to date on findings since then. Trends can come and go and new terminology arise in that same period. You don’t want your book to appear dated by decade (or more!).

Research also allows you to clarify in your own mind what the book’s focus will be. Perhaps you really just want to discuss a single issue, trend or theme in a subject area. Reading up on it can help ensure you address all of the pertinent points while trimming out loosely-related topics.

Professional Book Editor: Having your novel, short story or nonfiction manuscript proofread or edited before submitting it can prove invaluable. In an economic climate where you face heavy competition, your writing needs a second eye to give you the edge. I can provide that second eye.



Write articles to promote your nonfiction book

If you’ve researched Negativespace1-12your book – and most fiction writers research their novels and short stories – you almost certainly read magazine, newspaper or journal articles on interesting topics only tangentially related to your title and that merited maybe only a sentence or two in your manuscript. These topics can be the kernel of articles that you later write to promote your book.

Suppose, for example, that I authored a book about mountain biking in northern California. As writing route descriptions, I might have noted what flora and fauna can be seen along the trails. No doubt one of the trails included some rare or endangered birds. I might have needed to quick read an article about those birds so that I could write a fact or two about what they looked like or how to best spot them. I wouldn’t include every single detail about their appearance and probably nothing about their mating cycles. Once I’ve completed my manuscript, however, I might have found that there are several northern California mountain biking trails with rare or endangered birds on them. Writing and publishing an article about “Best Northern California Bike Trails to Spot Rare Birds” would be a great way to promote my book. In that article, I likely would include material I read during my research but didn’t include in the book.

The challenge when writing these articles is to find publications that might run them. As this part of the process will take time, be sure to start it a few months before your book comes out. Newspapers, magazines and guest posts during a blog tour all are locations where you might place your articles.

At the end of each of these articles, always include a short one- or two-sentence that notes you are the author of such-and-such book. Include a link where the reader can purchase the book.

In addition to writing articles based on your research, you also can publish or post bits and pieces of your manuscript. One great option is to summarize the book’s major points or to hyperfocus by focusing on a lone chapter. This requires a little bit of editing and writing (usually transitions), but most of the text already is written for you. Another approach, using even less work is to simply serialize the manuscript. Rachel Carson’s “Silent Spring” was serialized in The New Yorker, helping shoot her science book to the top of the bestseller list.

Professional Book Editor: Having your novel, short story or nonfiction manuscript proofread or edited before submitting it can prove invaluable. In an economic climate where you face heavy competition, your writing needs a second eye to give you the edge. I can provide that second eye.



How to conduct an interview for book research

Indie Interviewwriters researching a nonfiction book (and even those writing novels!) often must conduct interviews. This is a valuable way to gather background information and quotations that will be useful in shaping and penning the book.

If you’ve never conducted an interview before, it can be a stressful time. Meeting someone, especially of importance, often can cause you to be nervous and very self-conscious. Do not worry, however. Typically interviewees are honored to talk about topics they care deeply about and will welcome you. And the more interviews you do, the easier they come.

To ensure your interview goes as smoothly as possible, follow a few simple guidelines:
Be on time – The interviewee is doing you a favor by taking time from his or her busy schedule. Respect that. If the interviewee also has set a time when the session must end, don’t go over it.
Dress appropriately – Always dress for the setting so that the interviewee will take you seriously. A corporate environment means professional attire while a start-up of young twenty-something techies probably would scoff at anyone wearing a suit and tie.
Remain courteous – Always take the moral high road. If the interviewee says something with which you disagree, don’t argue but ask for clarification. If the interviewee says something intolerably reprehensible, you always can politely end the session and leave.
Receive permission to receive – If using a tape recorder or a recording app via Skype, always state you will record it. If the interviewee objects, then do not record. Side note: If recording, use a device with background noise cancellation, which makes transcription easier, ensuring accurate quotations and a better understanding of the interviewee’s statements.
Practice good listening skills – Focus on what they’re saying, not on how you might respond it. Also, don’t interrupt or try to show off by telling how much you know. You’re interviewing the person to gather information, not to give it to them or to impress.
Prepare a list of questions – Don’t um and uh your way through an interview. Instead, write a list of questions in advance. If you have an outline for your manuscript, many of those questions can be about the sections for which you have little text or need to better understand. During the interview you always can stray from you questions, dumping those that have just been answered or that you realize aren’t relevant; you also can add questions that pop into your head based on the interviewee’s answers.
Ask for clarification – Never remain confused in an interview, especially if you don’t understand what the interviewee is explaining or if the answer contradicts your research. You will gain a new depth of understanding and later be less likely to make mistakes when writing if you walk out of an interview clear about what was said.
Follow up with a thank you – Don’t just offer thanks at the interview’s end but email a thank you. Wait a day and in between that time review your notes to do this so that you might email any follow-up questions or ask for clarifications.

Professional Book Editor: Having your novel, short story or nonfiction manuscript proofread or edited before submitting it can prove invaluable. In an economic climate where you face heavy competition, your writing needs a second eye to give you the edge. I can provide that second eye.



Keep research notes for your book organized

If you’ve 11751773_10152869120715216_8926445885788376719_n adequately researched your nonfiction book, then you probably have so many notes that organizing them is a must. Unless you do so, the writing of your first draft won’t go smoothly.

The best approach to take is to make a loose outline in advance of any notetaking. This can help guide your research. As you take notes, simply place them under the appropriate header on a word processing file.

As your knowledge of the topic grows with the research, your outline will evolve. The placement of points will shift and specific ideas that will be written about under each section will expand and become firmer. Some notes may need be cut and paste to new headers.

Only take and store notes on the outline kept on your computer. Ideas on Post-it notes, quotations in different notepads, and interview answers left in emails are bound to be lost or forgotten. Any notes taken on another platform – I personally prefer to write interview answers on a notepad rather than type them during the Q&A, for example – should immediately be transcribed in a single file with the rest of your notes.

All of this may seem like a lot of work. But far less efficient and actually creating more work is tearing articles out of magazines, printing off online articles – both to be looked at later – or taking all of your notes on index cards that then are shuffled and reshuffled to fit your outline. You’ll still need to type notes onto your computer sooner or later, and if you wait until later, you’ll probably have to re-read the article to find the relevant text.

Professional Book Editor: Having your novel, short story or nonfiction manuscript proofread or edited before submitting it can prove invaluable. In an economic climate where you face heavy competition, your writing needs a second eye to give you the edge. I can provide that second eye.



Where to research info for your nonfiction book

Among the 0001 biggest mistakes novice writers of nonfiction books make is not adequately researching their material. The result is that they often misstate facts, don’t provide the evidence to back their claims that might not be readily accepted, and tend to lack a depth of understanding about the topic.

Indeed, as outlining your manuscript, research should be your primary focus. Learning how others think about the topic and reviewing the literature on it can help you best shape your own book.

There are plenty of places to gather information about a topic. Among them:
Published books and articles (both academic and popular) – These materials can be found online and at libraries run by your local municipality or university. As published materials, such text typically is written by other experts or researchers and so can provide invaluable quotations and statistics about a topic.
Interviews – All too often authors of self-published nonfiction books overlook the value of an interview. Yet, the interviews is the primary way journalists and many authors gather information for their books. Unlike a book or an article, you can carry on a conversation with the interviewee, allowing you to explore ideas, especially those that are hazy to you.
Government agencies – Agencies must gather statistics to direct their activities and to make the case for their funding. Some agencies do nothing but collect data for other agencies. Most of this data is available online, such as at www.data.gov.
Internet – The world wide web is an excellent place to locate and read academic articles, to find experts for interviews, and to browse government data. Be wary of misstatements and misinformation from bloggers and websites who hold a specific political or economic interest in advocating a position, however. In addition, like printed encyclopedias of old, sources such as Wikipedia and websites often are great places to get an overview of a topic but are inadequate as sources of quotable information.

Finally, if you’re an expert on the topic – say a financial adviser writing about planning for retirement – you probably know enough to get away with not researching the topic. Still, even an expert’s arguments and recommendations are strengthened when evidence from others provides evidence and support, so research is well worth the effort.

Professional Book Editor: Having your novel, short story or nonfiction manuscript proofread or edited before submitting it can prove invaluable. In an economic climate where you face heavy competition, your writing needs a second eye to give you the edge. I can provide that second eye.