How to write a non-fiction book
Do you dream of writing a non-fiction book? Are you struggling to figure out where to start? If so, then this blog post is for you. This blog post will take you through a step by step process on how to write a non-fiction book. It starts off with helping you to choose an idea or topic, then it launches into giving your idea structure, and finally completing your first draft. The more structure or work you do before you write your first draft the easier the book will be to create and publish.
At the moment, I’m currently writing another non-fiction book as well as a mystery thriller novel with the working title, Immunity. This does sound like a lot of writing, but fiction and non-fiction are written in two different ways. Writing a non-fiction book is more about serving and providing a solution to a problem, whereas, fiction is about whisking your reader into another world, and entertaining.
I would like to point out, this article is perfect for you if you desire to write a non-fiction book. It’s not great for you if you’re writing a memoir or other narrative style non-fiction book. The reason for this is a memoir or narrative non-fiction are different styles and are written in a different way.
Define Your Why
Before you start the process of writing a non-fiction book, I want you to take a few moments to get clear on why you want to write a non-fiction book. After you hit publish, what do you want to achieve? Are you writing to position yourself as an expert in your field? Do you want to add an extra stream of income to your business? Do you dream of seeing your book on the shelves of a bookstore? Take a few moments to write out all of the reasons why you want to write a non-fiction book.
Now, that you’ve gotten clear on why you want to write a non-fiction book, I have a few important questions to ask you. How will you know when you’ve achieved this? How will you measure your success? I know these questions seem similar to the questions asked previously but, I want you to get clear on how you will know when you’ve achieved your goal. Take a few moments to write this out in a journal.
Here are the nine steps you need to take to write a non-fiction book. I know this seems like a lot, but don’t worry, they don’t need to be done all at once. Just, one step at a time.
Step One: Choose your topic
If you’re considering writing a non-fiction book then you probably have a broad idea of what you want to talk about. It’s not enough to have a broad topic or idea, you need to dig a little deeper. The reason why I recommend going deeper into your book idea is, it’s difficult to talk about everything at once. So, focus on a narrow topic and delve deep instead of writing a massive book on a broad topic. You will need more than one book to make a living as a writer. Each book will become an income stream of its own. The other benefit to writing a smaller book is it will help your readers overcome information overload. People read non-fiction because they’re looking for a solution to a problem. As a result, they buy a tonne of books on that topic.
Step Two: Create an Ideal Reader Profile
As I alluded to earlier, you need to write a non-fiction book with your ideal reader in mind. When you start a business one of the first things you do is create a target market profile then back it up with research. This is exactly what I want you to do for your book. To create an ideal reader profile, consider the answers to the next two questions. What problems is your ideal reader struggling with? What solution are they looking for? Take a few moments and look at 5 or 10 books that are similar to the book you want to write. This isn’t about copying someone else’s idea but checking out what is in demand.
As you start researching, look at a few different sources, like Amazon, forums and social media. Take a few moments to look for questions that relate to your topic. Write these questions down in a journal. After you finish your research, create an ideal reader profile based on your findings. Give your ideal reader a name. I know this sounds crazy but it will help you to realise you’re writing for real people. Get clear on your reader’s demographics, like age, marital status, family, career, and income. Do this before you write your book to ensure, you’re writing to fill a demand. If you don’t you will end up writing a book then finding an audience. The second option, finding an audience, is difficult.
Step Three: Get Clear on the Message of Your Book
What message are you trying to convey to your readers? What do they need to know to achieve the results they desire? It’s important you get clear on exactly what you want to say before you start writing. Take a few moments to write down a couple of sentences or a paragraph on the message behind your book. This theme will become handy after you finish your first draft because in the editing process you will need to go back and consider if your book achieves its objective or message.
Step Four: Create an Outline
In step one and two, you got clear on your topic and the problem your non-fiction book is solving. Do you have a solution to this problem? When most people decide to write a non-fiction book, it’s because they’ve achieved similar results for themselves or other people and want to share it.
The easiest way to outline your book is to brainstorm a table of contents, then dig deeper from there. Before you can create a table of contents, you need to create a process. A process is a series of steps your readers need to take in order to achieve the desired result. What do you need to cover in order for your readers to get the solution or result promised by your book? If you’re having trouble creating a process, reverse engineer it. Think of the end result and consider, what is the previous step and then the step before. Keep going until you reach the starting point. Each of these steps or groups of steps will be a chapter in your non-fiction book. Now, that you’re clear on your process, it’s time to create a table of contents.
If you’re looking for more detailed information on how to outline a non-fiction book, then check out this blog post.
Step Five: Choose a Title for Your Book
I like to choose a title for my books before I start writing my first draft, but you don’t have to decide now. You can choose your title after you write your first draft. The title of a non-fiction book needs to be two things, a hint at the topic or content of your book and easily found using the search feature of an online store. When you chose a title for your book, consider your reader. What would your ideal reader search for? Go back and take a look at your ideal reader profile. If you haven’t done this, go back and perform a search on the Amazon Kindle store. As you start typing, a drop-down list will appear. This list contains the most popular search terms people are looking for.
It’s important to spend time researching long-tail keywords or keyword phrases on Amazon. Keep a list of the most relevant long-tail keywords you find during your research. Even if you don’t use them in the title, they will come in handy when you write your book’s description and select long-tail keywords when you submit your book to Amazon.
Step Six: Write Your First Draft
The most important thing about writing your first draft is to not give in to the temptation of going back and editing what you have already written. I highly recommend not giving in to this temptation because you will never finish your first draft. The point of the first draft is to get your ideas onto the page so you can build upon it and perfect it during the editing phase.
To finish your first draft, you need to develop the habit of writing every day. Many people make the same mistake when they create a writing habit. They aim to write 1000 or more words a day. This type of goal often leads to failure because you’re going from zero words per day to thousands. It’s not the word count that matters at this stage, it’s the habit. I know this sounds strange because you need to finish your first draft in order to start editing, but the habit needs to come first. So, start off by developing the habit of writing a few hundred words every day on a consistent basis. Once you have developed this habit of consistency, focus on increasing your word count.
Once you have finished the first draft, you can start to seriously consider the next steps in the publishing process, but first, focus on creating a writing habit and finishing your first draft.
As always, I have a few important questions to ask you. Do you dream of writing a non-fiction book? Where are you in the writing and publishing process? I want to hear from you. Let me know by sharing where you are at with writing a non-fiction book in the comments below.
I’m Amelia. I write Mystery Novels under the pen name A. D. Hay. And, I’m the author of Missing, the first book in the James Lalonde series. On this blog, I help new writers to finish their first draft, prepare their manuscripts for professional editing, and when they get stuck in the first draft phase or are confused about the revision process. Right now, I’m editing and preparing my soon to be published mystery novels, Duplicity, 24 Hours, and Immunity for publication.