Writing a nonfiction book can be challenging, especially if it is your first time doing so. The following are some do’s and don’ts to keep in mind while you work on your nonfiction book.
Know Why You’re Writing
It is important to have a clear vision of why you are writing your nonfiction book. With a clear vision and purpose, your writing can be well organized. Otherwise, you run the risk of simply ranting about your topic. Ask yourself: Why is my topic important enough to write a book about? What do I want my readers to take away from the book? What is the ultimate message I want to send? If you don’t have quick answers to these questions, take some time to think about them.
Make An Outline
The best way to stay organized when writing your book is to make a detailed outline. Make headings for each chapter and use subheadings when appropriate. Under each heading and subheading, jot down the main points you want to make in that section. An outline is a guide – it doesn’t have to be set in stone. You can always make changes later if you find something that flows better as you are writing.
Even if you are an expert in your topic, it is a good idea to have research to back up your claims. Look for books, articles, and other sources at your local library and online to verify that your facts are correct. Include your sources in your book via a reference page at the end. If you have previously published books or studies that you have conducted that you are using, cite them as well and be sure to talk about how they make you credible. This will help you boost your credibility as an author while also qualifying you as an expert in your specific area of interest.
While any nonfiction book is about a real-world topic, you can still show your personality. Write in a tone of voice that feels natural to you. Use words and phrases that you would use, not what necessarily sounds the “smartest.” Having a unique voice will make you more endearing and appealing to readers. Additionally, don’t be afraid to include personal anecdotes about your connection to your topic. These personal touches usually come in the introduction, as you work to establish why you are writing your book.
In addition to being personal, it is important to keep the flow of the narrative in mind while writing nonfiction. This relates to the question of why you are writing in the first place. Avoid diversions into other topics that are not relevant to your overall take-home message. Reader attention spans are finite, so it is important to keep a reader’s attention. Taking a sharp turn into other directions may confuse readers. For example, if you are writing a book about military aircraft, you might not need to include a rant about how passenger airplanes operate today.
Look to the Future
As you near the end of your book, it is often helpful to look towards the future in regards to your topic. How is your topic relevant going forward? Remember the question of why you are writing the book in the first place. The end of the book is the place for you to drill down on why all the ideas, facts, and theories of your book are important.
We hope these do’s and don’ts are helpful in your writing journey.
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