Testing the Non-Fiction Waters

Monday, June 28, 2010
For the past decade, I've been toying with an idea for a non-fiction book. While the idea appeals to me, I'm not certain how well the inspiration will transfer to paper. In other words, I'm not sure if there's a market for the final product.

Now, I hear what you're saying: If you don't sit down and write, you'll never know if it will work.

Very true, I respond. But before I even begin, I need questions answered. If you're considering a non-fiction proposal, you may need to consider these tips, too:
  • Excitement! A strong non-fiction idea elicits excitement. If your inner writer is not excited about the subject, you'll have trouble getting excited about writing. A strong book proposal shows an author's enthusiasm for the subject. I am excited about my idea, so now I need to consider...
  • Questions. What's my knowledge level? Will I be able to find qualified experts? Where would I find similar books in a bookstore or library? How many other books have been published on the topic? Is my take on the topic unique or overdone? I don't have extensive knowledge about the topic, but I'm intrigued by it. I've found experts. Only a handful of books are in the local bookstore and the online bookstores. My angle is unique. Now I need to consider a...
  • Summary. I need to prepare an elevator pitch - a 30-second spiel - about my idea and try it out on someone. My mom bought my pitch, but will a publisher? A writer friend helped me fine-tune it. Now I'm ready to locate an...
  • Agent or Publisher. Mainstream publishers may not be the best choice. Search for speciality or niche publishers. Utilize market guides, online newsletters and databases to find a good fit. You may also find self-publication to be your best route. I've found a niche publisher. Now I need to...
  • Write. Sometimes, thinking about writing is more work than actually sitting down to write. Make time to research, conduct interviews, write, rewrite, rewrite again. Nobody ever said writing was easy, but if you believe in your project, you'll make the time to write. You'll find a critique group that pushes you to create the best possible product. You'll accept constructive criticism, revise, and be flexible. Writing isn't an ego trip. It's about taking a passion and sharing with others.

Now, after this pep-talk-turned-blog-post, I'm ready to start writing. Are you?

Do you have any tips about writing non-fiction that you'd like to share?

by LuAnn Schindler. LuAnn writes a weekly column about her home state, Nebraska. You can find out more at her website http://luannschindler.com or follow her on Facebook or Twitter - @luannschindler .


Angela Mackintosh said...

Great post, Annie! I can feel your excitement about the project. ;)

If you haven't done so already, check out the free advice from Annette on How to Write a Nonfiction Book Proposal. It walks you through the process, step-by-step.

LuAnn Schindler said...

Thanks, Ang. I'll check out Annette's article.

Alison, I'm a visual learner, and using color helps me remember main points.

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