Faye Arcand, My Twisted Writer Brain…, Writing a Book

What You Need to Know Before Writing That NonFiction Book

Nonfiction writing is based on facts–real events, and real people. You can spell it nonfiction or non-fiction–Either is correct.

Nonfiction writing and publishing is a completely different beast from that of fiction and targets a unique audience and readership.

As per Wikipedia, it can take on various forms, but basically is written and shared with an authoritative stance to represent the truth and accuracy of a particular topic or story.

What kind of nonfiction are you planning to write?

Is your book creative nonfiction where you’re showing “real” events in an entertaining and story-like way? If writing in this literary genre do your homework and make sure you’re actually doing nonfiction. It can get a little fuzzy when the truth is stretched too far on the creative side (thus turning it into fiction) but still represented as fact.

Are you relating a story or memoir? If you can represent it as actually happening to the best of your knowledge/memory then stand firm on the nonfiction designation. But if too much fluff and imagination start entering in, it may slide into the creative nonfiction which has more wiggle room. Know the boundaries though or risk slipping even further right into a fiction book based on a true story.

There are other forms of nonfiction which are easier to define or categorize. Nonfiction includes things like essays, textbooks, travel books, biography, how-to, opinion, blogs, self help… The list goes on.

If you want to take a nonfiction book and attempt to have it traditionally published there are questions you’ll need to ask yourself.

Here are FIVE things to seriously consider prior to writing the book.

  1. Why are you the best person to write this book? Let’s say it’s a book about the lifecycle of the seahorse. Can you show that you have expertise in that area? What are your credentials/qualifications? Why should anyone read your account and not someone else’s?
  2. Why are you writing this book? What is the motivation behind it? Are you wanting to share wisdom or opinion? Why does the world need this book? Who is the targeted reader/audience for this book?
  3. Once you can identify your target audience then they also need to know you. Do you have a platform? A website? a social media following for that project or topic? Who is going to buy your book and where are those people? Do they know you exist? Publishers will want to know that you have a built in audience ready to buy your book.
  4. Have you prepared a nonfiction book proposal? Writing nonfiction is different than fiction in that you need to do up a proposal showing the answers to all these questions and a breakdown of chapters, topics, and writing style. If you want to proceed and write a draft of your book, fine but don’t send that to potential agents or publishers as they first want all these questions answered in a formal proposal. I guess the good thing about doing a draft is that if you don’t get picked up by a publisher you can alway rewrite and self pub.
  5. Are you prepared to market this book? How are you going to do it? Any perspective publisher will want you to *sell* your work. Know how you’re going to do this. This goes back again to your platform and being able to sell yourself.

Yes, doing a proposal is a lot of work but if you have something to say and really want that book out there then you’ll work to make it happen. We’ll chat more about nonfiction in the future. For now, consider the questions and prepare your answers.

7 thoughts on “What You Need to Know Before Writing That NonFiction Book”

  1. Hi Faye, These are so wonderful. Why don’t you have a share button for Twitter? Keep up the great work.

    Warmest Aloha, Tricia Tricia Morris, CDFA® 808.283.7811

    Nationally Certified Mediator – Conflict Advisor LinkedIn Mediate.com http://www.TransformConflicts.com


  2. Hi Tricia. There is a share button for Twitter. Right below the subscribe button. Sorry you missed it because I love shares. And I see you are in Hawaii. Just a little bit jealous as I deal with the snow in Canada….well, maybe more than a little. Thanks for stopping by. Very much appreciated.

  3. Great post! There are so many nonfiction writers out there who often feel “left out” when so many conferences, workshops, blogs, writers’ groups, etc. tend to focus on fiction and sometimes even come across as fiction being “real writing” … as if nonfiction is not. Thanks for encouraging us nonfiction folks (and those of us who are a bit “creative” with our nf, LOL!

    1. thanks Norma. Yes. Sometimes we forget about the nf peeps but since I’m one too I’ll let it slip….lol. Got a lot of different stuff coming so stay tuned. Thanks for stopping by. Hope you’re feeling at least a bit inspired. xo

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