Writing my very first non-fiction book was one of the most exciting endeavors I have accomplished in my 39 years. Ten years later, I am proud to say that I have published six non-fiction works with future ones in development. Each phase of the book writing process can seem daunting and tedious; however, once you develop a seamless system that works well, you will be on your way to smooth sailing.
It’s important to stay true to who you are as a person and author and realize that you can create something entirely original for your audience. After writing six manuscripts, I can now better recognize my own unique “voice.” Once you recognize yours, you will find the entire research, development and writing process to be more fun and enjoyable. Remember that you, the writer, are the best advocate for your book.
Get Rid of Procrastination
Get Rid of Procrastination: Clearly set attainable goals. For example, you can notate on your calendar that you will write 500 words per day or write one chapter per week. Create a healthy writing space with minimal interruption and while there, study your creative patterns. Are you more creative in the morning or at night? Do you write better with some calming music or in complete silence? Discover what little idiosyncrasies work for you and implement them in your writing repertoire.
An Outline is Your Friend
This is a very important step. While you don’t need a completed table of contents; having an organized outline is crucial as it will help keep your thoughts / sections of the book more organized. It’s also beneficial for timeline purposes as well. For example, you can designate to work on two or more sections of your outline each day. An outline or table of contents will help you to remain authoritative and in command as well.
Understand the Book Proposal Process
The book proposal process is as equally important to the entire project. It gives you a front row seat as to why your book stands out among the rest of the competition. A properly constructed proposal can give you many more choices among publishers. Research and understand all the components of each publisher’s book proposal process. There are many sections that are universal across the board, such as 1) table of contents or outline, 2) target audience, 3) about the author, 4) a list of competing titles, 5) content overview, etc. However, one publisher may require something in its proposal that another doesn’t require, so it’s up to you to understand the process for each publisher you submit to. Perhaps, the most important step in writing a book proposal is to explain why your book is relevant in today’s competing marketplace. Even if there are many titles similar to what you are developing, be creative in explaining why yours stands out.
While it’s nice to have an outline or developed table of contents, please don’t feel restricted to write in the exact order of your outline or table of contents. Write what comes up at that very moment as you can always go back later on and developmentally edit the content. Some of my best writing occurs when I get that sudden “urge” to write. Whether it is at 8:00 a.m. or midnight, if your creative juices are flowing, it’s best to open up your laptop and type away. Don’t worry about flow or substantive editing as that can come later. After you are finished, save your work and come back to it the next day. You may be surprised at what else you think of to add or change. Furthermore, make sure to save your written material in a variety of ways.
Place yourself in the shoes of your audience. Ask yourself what you look for in successful non-fiction writers. Re-read your manuscript several times. Have other trusted individuals read your book and take notice to their constructive feedback. Read a lot of non-fiction books. In doing so, you will discover and take note of the many reasons you prefer one book over the other. Humans love to hear and share memorable stories, so be creative in how you relay your narrative. Implement strategies in your writing that will appeal to the emotions of your readers. They will continue to turn page after page if they discover that your unique author “voice” and style of writing appeals to their everyday life.
Love Your Editor
Always remember that your editor is there to help your book reach success. Thus, don’t get all twisted and bent out of shape if he or she offers suggestions. You may not agree with advised changes that need to be made, but at least listen to what your editor suggests because, like you, he or she is also an advocate for your book. I see too many authors arguing with their editors over petty things – this tense energy will ultimately translate to the page, causing some readers to turn away. Your editor is there to make your book shine.
Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Take the time to research various publishers. At first glance, you may find a publisher that seems perfect for your book; however, after exhausting other outlets, you may discover that others may better suit your manuscript. Talk to other colleagues and acquire their particular publisher recommendations and the specific reasons why they chose to sign with a particular company. You can devise a pros and cons list for various publishers, which can make the selection process a little easier. Once you have definitively decided to go with a particular choice, please make sure that you understand every component of your author contract. I cannot express how vitally important this is. Don’t ever be afraid to approach your publisher with questions about your contract.
I accomplished one of my life’s goals by writing my non-fiction books. If I can do it, you can, too. If you have a particular idea for an intriguing book concept, then shoot for the stars. Don’t let anyone interfere or try to stop you. As always, my best wishes for you as an author. I look forward to seeing your book(s) on the shelves one day.