7 Essentials for Writing a Powerful Nonfiction Book
There will always be a need for really great nonfiction books. But with the publishing world becoming quickly inundated with self-help and how-to books, you want to make sure yours stands out from the masses.
1. Create a strong outline before you start writing. I often recommend starting with a mindmap – jot down your main idea in the center of the page and just start writing any ideas that come to you. You can take those ideas, group the common ideas together, and put them in an order that makes sense. This might be chronological, or it might be by subject matter. Make sure the outline fits your vision for your book. Your vision may come to you as you are writing the outline.
2. Research. Once you’ve put together an outline, you can start fleshing it out. Conduct any research you need to fill in all areas of your outline. You may have already even created a lot of your own content that you can repurpose. Your research might include interviews, case studies, or other data.
3. Check “facts” you uncover in your research. Be wary of using information found on blogs, unless it is well sourced. Academic sites, professional sites, books, and journals are a great place to get information. Dig deep to uncover primary sources (original research, studies, historical documents, etc.) rather than relying on secondary sources such as magazine articles or books.
4. Make sure you absolutely do not plagiarize anyone’s work! That means no lifting copy verbatim, and no rewording some other author’s material. It’s not okay to just take someone else’s ideas and re-write them either.
If you plagiarize in the latter fashion, not only are you opening yourself to legal action, but your book will feel wishy-washy and unoriginal anyway.
It is acceptable to (a) refer to another author’s statements or positions (b) quote short sections – one to three lines – as long as you cite (give credit to) the author and his work. It is not acceptable to quote entire passages without written permission, and citing the source is not a sufficient substitute.
When in doubt, get permission.
5. Do not use PLR (private label rights) material. – Lots of companies are out there selling Private Label Rights content. It may look really appealing to buy content that someone else has already written, and recreate as your own book. But just because you bought the rights to use materials does NOT mean it’s appropriate to take that and use it for a book. Additionally, it is absolutely against Kindle’s terms, and pretty much just a bad idea. This is your book, your name is going on it. Plus you want your book to feel as unique and individual as possible. Any PLR should be used strictly as a guide, giving you tips for research and facts to look up, as well as ideas for your own unique twist on things. If you want someone else to write your book, hire a ghostwriter.
6. Tell stories. Stories make your book more interesting and relatable. Include anecdotes that will personalize your book for the reader, even if you are not using actual examples of others’ experiences, but just showing her what is possible in her case, if she follows your advice.
7. Understand the existing market – Look at what content already exists on your topic. Read some of the books, look at the reviews. Determine how your book adds to existing literature and create something that readers are going to want to buy. And don’t be afraid to ask your audience what they want.
Do you need more help with going from idea to outline?
Check out my course – Jumpstart your Nonfiction Book