Writing Your Non-Fiction Book is a guide to writing a non-fiction book and getting it published by a traditional (print) publisher. With all the attention devoted to self-publishing on Kindle, CreateSpace, and so on, this approach can almost seem old-fashioned nowadays. Nonetheless, there is still a strong argument for seeking a conventional print publisher, not least for the support with the publishing process and the potentially better financial returns. Most of my own books have been traditionally published non-fiction.
Alex starts by discussing why you might want to write a non-fiction book and what to write about. There is good, sensible advice about building your reputation as an ‘expert’ in your chosen field first, e.g. by writing articles and getting them published in magazines.
Alex doesn’t recommend writing a book and then casting around for a publisher. Rather, he advocates sending out a proposal first, and only going ahead with the writing once you have a contract from a publisher. This approach is discussed in detail, and I agree it is definitely the way to go with non-fiction books.
He goes on to discuss researching and writing your book, and the subsequent proofreading and editing process. The final part then covers promoting your book (working with your publisher’s publicist) and ways you can boost sales and generate additional income (e.g. by registering with the PLR Office and ALCS in the case of UK authors).
Writing Your Non-Fiction Book is quite concise, but it provides a great introduction to writing a non-fiction book and getting it published. At the low asking price (just $1.26 in the US Amazon store and 99p at Amazon UK) it would be a valuable addition to any aspiring author’s library.
If you are interested in writing a non-fiction book, you might also like to consider Write Any Book in Under 28 Days, my own top-selling course on non-fiction book writing. My course is obviously more expensive than Alex’s e-book, but it does go into a bit more detail about the writing and editing process.
Today I am pleased to bring you an inspirational guest post by UK freelance writer Iain Maitland.
Iain is an old friend of mine, whom I first met many years ago when he was editing a newsletter called Personal & Finance Confidential, for which I was a contributor.
In his article, Iain reveals how, after many years as a struggling freelance, a book deal catapulted him into the big time.
Over to Iain, then…
This is an article for aspiring writers, especially those with a dream.
This is not a how-to article.
It is not going to make you money.
What it will do is to give you hope – it’s never too late to achieve what you want.
I’ve been a freelance writer for 30 years, turning my hand to all sorts of articles, from curing hay fever by putting Vaseline up your nose to making money from Forex trading. What I’ve always really wanted to do is to be a ‘proper’ writer with a literary agent and a big-time publisher.
I had a go at various books now and then over the years and time passed by and nothing ever worked. I turned 54 last year and thought I’d drift into retirement with, between you and me, plenty of regrets.
And then something rather magical took place.
I’d written this book, Dear Michael, Love Dad – it’s a funny, sad and emotional story of my relationship with my eldest son. Think Dear Lupin or maybe Love Nina.
I sent it to lots of agents. They all turned it down. I sent it to every publisher I could find. They turned it down too. I then pretty much gave up.
Cue a magical moment. An agent, Clare, suggested we meet for breakfast. She loved the book and would pitch it to publishers. The next morning, within an hour or two, a publisher, Hannah, said she loved it as well. They’d publish it.
This was the same book that so many agents and publishers had turned down. Rejection after rejection after rejection; to the point where I doubted that I had any writing ability at all.
Yet now, same book remember, I was a wonderful writer, capable of moving people to tears and to laughing out loud.
Roll forward nine months to today, early July 2016, and I’m not sure if the book is going to be a best-seller, but it’s certainly going to do rather well. Charlie, ‘Dear Lupin’, Mortimer has said it is, ‘wonderful, moving, humorous…extremely poignant’ and that has been a big boost.
We have lots of interviews and features coming out across the press later this month, with an appearance on ITV This Morning booked on 27 July. There will be plenty of media coverage going through the summer.
I am now, almost overnight, that ‘proper’ writer I always wanted to be with an agent and a big-time publisher who has optioned a follow-up to Dear Michael, Love Dad.
I am about to start writing a stage play with a well-known actor (who may well play me) and this will see the light of day later next year.
I have a thriller, Sweet William, coming out next year too and that, it’s been suggested, will be a best-seller.
So it happened – is happening right now – for me; and, who knows, it could happen for you too. You just need to believe and keep going. And one day…
Nick Daws again: I really enjoyed reading Iain’s original article, and asked if he could follow it up by setting out some tips for writers wanting to follow in his footsteps. Once again, he came up trumps. Here is what he wrote…
Here’s my ‘how-to’ advice based on my own experiences…
* Write the whole damn book. If you don’t have a track record, the agent and publisher will want to see the complete manuscript.
* Discover similar books, either online or in Waterstones etc. The closest books to mine were ‘Dear Lupin’ and ‘Love Nina’.
* Google – you may have to dip deep – to find the agents and publishers of these books; I found leads on Linkedin and Facebook.
* Approach agents and publishers by email, with an outline of the book and a sample chapter. Keep it short and to the point. Don’t try to be smart or clever.
* Learn to accept rejection. You need a thick skin! Most will not reply. Those that do will send a template response. Few will engage.
* Take advice – when an agent does engage, listen to what they say. Dear Michael, Love Dad was rejected as a funny book but accepted once I’d woven in the bittersweet story of my eldest son’s depression and recovery.
* Remember the good news – you only need to be accepted once. You will get ignored and rebuffed over and over again. You may well doubt yourself. Your heart may break. But you have a talent and a story to tell. You only need one agent and one publisher; it will all roll on from there.
* Don’t get cross with agents and publishers who seem dismissive. They get bombarded. Publishing is a small world and you will cross paths again; not easy if you’ve called them a flipping idiot (or similar).
* Assume you are right and they are wrong and keep going – whisper it quietly, but one Hodder publisher turned my book down, another later accepted it with enthusiasm.
I am happy to chat! You can email me at Imaitland@aol.com.
Today I have a syndicated guest post for you from author and writing coach Earma Brown. In her article, Earma looks at various ways you can turn one (non-fiction) book into a money-spinning series…
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Are you planning to write just one book? Wait! Before you decide, at least let me show you how easy it is to make your single book into a series of books. By the way, publishers love book series and readers become fanatical over a serial of books.
Begin to change your thinking. Don’t look at your book as a one time thing or a one title event. Begin to look at it as the beginning of your successful author journey. If you are looking for an easier journey, more rewards and more profits with a series of books, follow the tips below:
1. Slash your huge book into separate books. The easiest way to do this is to separate your book into chunks, chapters, sections and parts. Writing this way will allow you to divide and conquer. You can easily take the chunks or sections and divide them into several books. Your readers will love that you made your book such an easy read and buy each one of them.
2. Put your overflow information into a second book. Gather all the overflow research material. You know all the extra information discovered that wouldn’t fit into your first book. Put it in order and develop it into a separate book. For example, if one of your chapters is becoming bloated with information overload consider marking it for book two. There’s no better time to start collecting information for book two than when you are organizing book one.
3. Poll your readers for a key point they want to know more about. Expound on a point your readers show interest in knowing more about. If you don’t know already, try to discover their problems and write the solutions in the next book. Handle this well and your sequel may sell better than the previous book.
4. Select a sub-topic to do further research. Do more research on one of your book’s sub-topics. Take a sub-topic that you only touched on in the first book and cover if fully in the sequel. Your readers will love the additional information and anticipate buying the next volume.
5. Write a companion book for the original book. You can excerpt sections from your first book, insert groups of checklists, discussion or reflection questions and voila you have a study guide or workbook.
6. Develop a meditation or journal book. Gather quotes related to your book’s topic and pair them with excerpts from your original book to put in a meditation book or devotional. Or create a journal with quotes from your original books in the corner of each lined page of the journal. You can number them according to weeks, days or lessons. For example, 52 weeks of inspiring thoughts or 365 days of inspirational thoughts from your book’s topic.
7. Repurpose your material for a different audience. Plan another edition of your book for a different audience than the original book. Remember the Chicken Soup for Teen-Agers, Prisoners, Mothers and so on sold better than the original Chicken Soup for the Soul. The original book was for a more general audience. Find out how you can target your audience even more and you may discover a better selling market within a general market.
If you don’t change your thinking, your book could end up being a tiny drop in the scheme of life. Instead plan a wildly successful series of books and make the splash you’re destined to make. You may feel you can’t dream that big. No worries; start with the simple tips above. Expand your thinking. Dream a bigger dream and write your single book into a plethora of books. I look forward to seeing your name in print many times.
Byline: Earma Brown, 12 year author and business owner helps small business owners and writers who want to write their best book now! Earma mentors other writers and business professionals through her monthly ezine “iScribe.” Send any email to email@example.com for free mini-course “Jumpstart Writing Your Book” or visit her at How to Write a Book
Thank you to Earma for a thought-provoking, inspirational article. There are some great ideas here any non-fiction author can apply.
You might also like to read the recent guest post here by Iain Pattison on how he turned a book of short stories into a successful series when his original book stopped selling. This principle works with fiction as well!
If you have any comments or questions about this post, as ever, please do leave them below.
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