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Writing a book online: Q&A with Lindsey Jacobs

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Future author Lindsey Jacobs on finally sharing her story

Future author Lindsey Jacobs on finally sharing her story

In recognition of our upcoming Spring/Summer 2016 Group Writing Program kickoff, we wanted to take time to highlight our aspiring authors. Today, we are highlighting Lindsey Jacobs, a blogger and aspiring author who is writing her book, When Opportunity Knocks. Lindsey is a 40-year-old single mother and nursing student. She has completed the Ironman and is now driving for another achievement — to write her first book. Lindsey blogs about her experiences at RamblingRunnerGirl.com.

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Creating the best story structure for your non-fiction book

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Creating-a-story-nonfiction-book-writing-book-coach-how-to-write-a-bookWhen it comes to crafting your personal exceptional story, it can be difficult to know where and how to begin. I’m here to help you design your story so you can start writing and get your story out into the world. As a book coach, my life is spent working with individuals who have a story to tell, and helping them share that story in a way that moves people to action. 

What is your story?

All of us have our own story, and people are truly interested in hearing it. Every day, each of us are asked questions such as:

  • What do you do?
  • What are you passionate about?
  • Where did you go to school?
  • Do you have kids?

You see, even if people are not directly asking about your story, these types of questions are all indirect ways to try to learn more about you and the story you have to tell.  

Physiologically, humans are wired to enjoy and relate to stories. Stories have been a part of the human fabric since the beginning of time. People like to listen to stories, relate to them, and remember them. Find your story and give people what they crave!

It’s important to understand the difference between telling your story and presenting your resume. You cannot tell your exceptional story by reciting a list of your accomplishments or delivering an elevator pitch. You need to dig deeper. Your story will communicate who you are, so you need to figure out exactly who that is and how to showcase that person.

Start with the foundation of your story

Before you start writing your story, you need to answer two questions:

  1. What is the purpose of your story?
  2. Who is the audience?

Stories can help you cross racial, social-economical, political, and religious, boundaries; they are that powerful. I believe there are two key things all people need: hope and help. Your story has the power to offer hope and help to others. Your story can change lives and have an impact on society, but you need to decide just what kind of impact you want to make. What do you want your story to communicate? What change do you want to invoke in the reader? How will your story help people?

Knowing your audience is essential. Your target audience will determine what you tell them and why. Cater your story to grab the interest of your audience, so that you can deliver a helpful and memorable story. Take a look at my blog post, How to Define an Audience for Your Book, for a more in-depth explanation of how to tackle this important task.

Outline the three parts of your story to lay the plan for your nonfiction book

Obviously, all stories have a beginning, middle, and end, but the three parts I suggest you consider are these:

  1. What it used to be like
  2. What happened
  3. What it’s like now

Start with what life was like before the change happened.  Were you happy? Overworked? Unfulfilled? Paint a picture of your “before” and set your audience up for the change.

The “what happened” section is the turning point in your story. It’s your pivotal moment, the bridge that connects the before and after. Something happened that caused a change in your life, and that’s what you’ll share with your audience. Some changes are internal, such as an “aha!” moment that directed you to take action or make a change, but some people need more of a push. External changes are things that force us into change, such as the death of a family member, birth of a child, a divorce, loss of a job, or some other life-altering occurrence. What happened to you? How did it force you to change and why?

Create closure in your story

Next, tell your audience what it’s like now. Where are you in your life? How are things different?

If you’re struggling with how to wrap up the impact of your life or a specific chapter in your story, consider these six areas of your life and how they have been impacted by the events you shared in your memoir or business book:

  • Spiritual
  • Health
  • Relationships
  • Emotional
  • Professional, 
  • Financial

How have these areas of your life been affected?

If you take these three aspects–What it Used to be Like, What Happened and What It’s Like Now–put them together, and seal them with a solid purpose statement that clearly communicates the purpose of your story, you will have a solid design in place.  

You have a story to tell, and people are ready to hear it, but whether or not they will relate to it and remember it depends on how well you tell it. How you tell your story is just as important as the story itself. I can help you craft your story and work with you when you have trouble writing. Don’t let fear of writing keep you from sharing your story with the world!

If you need help to write your book, consider working with me as you write your first book. Details below!


 

nancy erickson book coach book coaches How to Become an Author: Module One 1About Nonfiction Book Writing & Publishing Expert Nancy Erickson

Nancy Erickson is better known as “The Book Professor,” a writing and publishing consultant who specializes in helping aspiring nonfiction authors bring their book ideas to market. Nancy works as a book coach assisting authors that write self-help books, biographies, business books, and other nonfiction books through online courses and book coaching. Contact Nancy with questions or to have her speak at your upcoming event by clicking here.

 


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DESIGNING YOUR BOOK CONTENT TO DELIGHT NONFICTION BOOK COACH, BOOK COACH ONLINE FRONT COVER BACK COVER

Designing your book’s content to delight

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DESIGNING YOUR BOOK CONTENT TO DELIGHT NONFICTION BOOK COACH, BOOK COACH ONLINE FRONT COVER BACK COVERNonfiction book consultant on importance of book design

A lot of people say they want to write a book, but very few actually do it. If you’re contemplating your book cover design, this means that you’ve accomplished (or nearly accomplished) something spectacular. Even if you’re in the early stages of writing your book, it is also valuable to consider how to structure the additional front and back matter that appears in your final book.

Remember, as you are working to craft the design of your nonfiction book, you are also constructing the reader’s experience. The information you include in your book will either help or hinder them from realizing the solution your book offers. You already know that your front and back cover are key, but so is the front and back matter that is a common part of nonfiction books such as memoirs, historical books, biographies, academic books, leadership, self-help, and business books. Here are my recommendations:

Nonfiction book content design elements

Front Matter

Your front matter is typically informational and may include elements such as book endorsements, a title page, a copyright page, and  table of contents. Here are some optional elements that you might also consider:Book Foreword on book jacket cover

  • Foreword: This is the part that comes before the main text of your book. It is typically usually written by someone other than you, often an expert who can attest to your credibility. The Foreword should display the same quality of writing as every other page you’ve painstakingly created. If you are lucky enough to garner a Foreword from a celebrity or expert of note, be sure to add their name on the front cover of your book. (Note: Remember the spelling of this section. Spelling foreword as “forward” can be a credibility killer. This is literally the fore word–the words that come before the core text of your book.)
  • Introduction: This is typically written by you and should be used if you feel there is something pertinent your readers need to know before they read the book. It could be something that gives them a clearer understanding of the book, or you can share why you felt compelled to write the book.
  • Dedication: This is a nice touch if you want to dedicate your book to someone important to you or if you feel that the work was inspired by someone. No author takes the journey alone, and recognizing the ones who support you is an excellent way to thank them.
  • Epigraph: An epigraph is a phrase, quote, or poem that is placed on its own page at the beginning of the book. Be careful when you use epigraphs because they can alienate your reader if the connection to the material isn’t clear. While epigraphs can be used to create an air of mystery in fiction books, when used in nonfiction books they should be clearly relevant. Include an epigraph only if it benefits of the reader.

Back  Matter

The back matter usually isn’t as important to the reader’s experience as the front matter may be, but it is important in other ways.

  • Back Cover Design: Your back cover and content can either support your marketing or kill it. Your front and back cover blurbs are your sales message. In The Complete Guide to Self-Publishing, publishers Avon and Bantam Dell Publications shared that twelve words are the maximum number for front book cover. However, you have about seventy-five words to work with on the back cover. Remember, people don’t buy books, they buy solutions! Your back cover is essentially your sales pitch, and this is where you can share the solution your book provides. Lead with your Purpose Statement–the promise that you’re offering to your target audience. Here’s an example of how you can structure your back book cover content with a simple formula that will speak to your audience.

back book cover content design nonfiction book consultant non-fiction book consultant book coach, non-fiction book coach

  • Epilogue: An epilogue is used to bring your readers up-to-date on any developments that came after the end of your book or to provide closure to the story.
  • About The Author: This section can be included in a separate page or on the dust cover of your book. This is your brag page. Self promotion is never easy, but this page should be promotional. This is a great place for a listing of your credentials, experiences, and expertise. One of your goals for writing your book may have been to establish yourself as an expert, a brand. This page is an important step in that journey. It will likely be used as your introduction at future speaking events, so be sure it’s well-written and contains information that you’re proud to share.
  • Acknowledgements: This section can be used to highlight anyone who contributed to the information in your book. These people may have simply been an inspiration, or they may have had a direct contribution to the work itself. Some authors put their acknowledgements at the front of their book, but I prefer to have acknowledgments at the back, so the reader can jump right in to the core material.
  • Index: This is an alphabetical list of names, subjects, events, and key ideas in your book. If your nonfiction book will be a reference guide, I recommend that you hire a professional indexer to create this section. This can only be created once the book has been finalized for print.
  • Glossary: A glossary may be a suitable substitute for an index. These can be useful to explain terms and can be a place where additional resources are referenced for those who want to learn more about a particular concept.
  • Additional Resources Section: If there are complementary organizations or online resources that add to the experience of your book or make it more useful to the reader, you can add a page or two with additional resources your reader can explore.

If you need help to write your book, consider one of my nonfiction book coaching programs:


author-coaching-book-coach-online-writing-class-get-my-book-outAbout Nonfiction Book Writing & Publishing Expert Nancy Erickson

Nancy Erickson is better known as “The Book Professor,” a writing and publishing consultant who specializes in helping aspiring nonfiction authors bring their book ideas to market. Nancy works as abook coach assisting authors that write self-help books, biographies, business books, and other nonfiction books through online courses and book coaching. Contact Nancy with questions or to have her speak at your upcoming event by clicking here.


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A Simple Formula For Telling Your Story

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a simple formula for telling your story non-fiction book consultant how to write a book learn how to write a bookSo, what’s your story? Has anybody ever asked you that?  It kind of sounds like a pick-up line, doesn’t it?

Maybe nobody has asked you that exact question, but they have asked that question in other forms. They say things like:

  • What do you do?
  • What line of work are you in?
  • Where are you from?
  • Do you have any children?
  • What does your company do?
  • Where did you go to school?
  • What do you sell?
  • How do you differentiate your product / service / self?

How you tell your story is just as important as the story itself.

How To Craft Your Exceptional Story

You can apply what I’m about to teach you to any story you tell, whether it’s about you, your company, your product, or your family.

The first step is to build its foundation, and you can do that by answering these two questions:

What’s the purpose? AND Who’s the audience?

  1. What’s the purpose?

You probably have a general idea of what you want to tell, but I challenge you distill it down to a single Purpose Statement before you start. Your Purpose Statement should say, “The purpose of my story is to ___________________. 

Complete that sentence. Bear in mind that it’s one sentence, not a paragraph.

Let me give you an example using my own purpose statement: The purpose of my story is to give people the courage to tell their truth and the tools they need to write a high-impact nonfiction book that will save lives, change lives, or transform society.

  1. Who’s the Audience?

If you don’t know your audience, it’s like playing spin-the-bottle in the dark. Don’t you want to know who you’re going kiss before you pucker up? Likewise, you need to envision your audience. Who do you interact with? What’s their age, demographic, marital status? Are they male or female, conservative or liberal? How do they identify themselves? Complete this sentence: The audience for my story is __________________.

Example: The audience for my story is everyday people.

  1. Pull it all together.

Now pull these components together to craft a single statement.

Example: The purpose of my story is to give everyday people the courage to tell their truth and the tools they need to write a high-impact nonfiction book that will save lives, change lives, or transform society.

Now that you have your Purpose Statement, you’ll want to write your story from your audience’s perspective, not yours. What do they want to know? What information are they seeking? What new message or perspective can you deliver? Compelling content always meets the need, and your job is to deliver what your audience is seeking.

Three Elements Of Your Story

Now I’d like to teach you the three elements of telling your story – and, no, it’s not beginning, middle, and end!

Stories are powerful, but only if they have a point. Your challenge is to think about your audience and convey what would be meaningful to them. Resist the temptation to tell them everything – you’ll bore them to death! Pare your story down to your purpose, and leave the rest behind.

Here’s a simple formula that you can use to tell your story:

Part 1. What it used to be like

Before you were where you are now, your life/work/health was a certain way. What was it like?

  • Was it pleasant and peaceful? 
  • Was it stressful and harrowing?
  • Were you broke and despondent?
  • Was there something missing in?
  • Something frustrating?
  • Was it seemingly perfect?

Example: I was trapped in a high-paying high-tech job that I hated but couldn’t leave because I was too afraid.

Part 2. What happened?What it used to be like

This brings us to the pivotal point in YOUR story. The pivotal point is the “what happened” of your story.

Change usually takes place due to one of two things. Perhaps you had an aha! moment and were internally motivated to try something new or move in a new direction. You realized something and made some changes. Those changes were internally motivated.

However, for a lot of us, change is forced upon us by external factors such as an illness, death, divorce, a marriage, new baby, or a lost job. What happened in your life that caused you to seek a new direction and put you on a different path?

This is the turning point in your story. It’s the event/circumstance/situation that bridges the before and after. What happened that changed everything? What was your pivotal moment?

Example: My dad was diagnosed with a terminal brain tumor and I shut everything down and traveled back and forth to Florida to be with my parents. After he died, I had the opportunity to start over, but I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I always loved to write, so I went back to school to get my Masters of Fine Arts degree in Writing. After I graduated I joined the faculty to teach writing, then started a small press to publish nonfiction books. I realized that most of the powerful stories were not being told, they were trapped inside of people, so I took what I knew as a university professor and a publisher and created a step-by-step methodology to turn people who aren’t writers into authors.    

Part 3. What it’s like now

This is the “After” portion. What is your life like now? How are you different now?  What are you doing to add value to your world?

Example: Now the people I work with have become the voices of hope and help. They are reaching out and changing people’s lives, simply by telling their stories.

When you write your story using this formula—what it used to be like, what happened, and what it’s like now, then seal it with your Purpose – then you have crafted your exceptional story.

Let’s take a look at all the elements pulled together.

I was trapped in a high-paying high-tech job that I hated but couldn’t leave because I was too afraid. But then my dad was diagnosed with a terminal brain tumo,r and I shut everything down and traveled back and forth to Florida to be with my parents.

After he died, I had the opportunity to start over, but I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I always loved to write, so I went back to school to get my Masters of Fine Arts degree in Writing. After I graduated I joined the faculty to teach writing, then started a small press to publish nonfiction books. I realized that most of the powerful stories were not being told because they were trapped inside of people, so I took what I knew as a university professor and a publisher and created a step-by-step methodology to turn people who aren’t writers into authors.    

Now the people I work with have become the voices of hope and help. They are reaching out and changing people’s lives, simply by telling their stories. The reason I do this is to give everyday people the courage to tell their truth and the tools they need to write a high-impact nonfiction book that will save lives, change lives, or transform society.

That’s MY story and I’m sticking to it!

What about your story? You’re the only one who can do it.

If you would like support, consider one of my nonfiction book coaching programs:

 


author-coaching-book-coach-online-writing-class-get-my-book-outAbout Nancy Erickson

Nancy Erickson is better known as “The Book Professor,” a writing and publishing consultant who specializes in helping aspiring nonfiction authors bring their book ideas to market. Nancy works as a book coach assisting authors that write self-help books, biographies, business books, and other nonfiction books through online courses and book coaching. Contact Nancy with questions or to have her speak at your upcoming event by clicking here.

 


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Writing Consultant Tips: 12 questions to answer before you begin writing a book

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12-questions-to-ask-before-you-write-your-book-writers-consultant how to write a bookThe journey of 1,000 miles begins with a single step.
– Chinese Proverb

The first steps to start any large project are the hardest, but when you make them as small and comprehensible as possible that can make the difference between overload shutdown and a manuscript completed. I’m a personal writing consultant, focused on helping aspiring nonfiction authors bring their ideas to life.

With my clients, I have found that a step-by-step approach to help focus and structure their big ideas is essential to help them stay on task and feel rewarded at each step of their journey.

Writing a book is a lot like building a house.

It’s a multi-layered project, and you must start with the foundation. When you build a house, you start with a concept, then draw up the blueprints that show all the details. The same is true for your book. As a personal writing consultant and publishing expert, I work to help authors learn how to take those first steps.

We’re going to take your current concept, which is your initial idea, and build it up layer by layer until it has the detail, color, and depth to tell a story that will change lives, save lives, or transform society.

Before you build a house, there are a few things you need to know before you get started, such as:

  • Should I even build a house?
  • How big will it be?
  • What will it look like?
  • Will it fit my lifestyle?
  • Will it look the same as the others in my neighborhood?
  • Will my family be comfortable here?
  • Is this a good investment?
  • How much will it cost?

When you’ve answered these questions, there are no surprises, and you have a clear understanding of what it takes to build a house. The same idea applies to writing your book. When undertaking a large project you must know what you’re building and it’s essential to take the time to plan it and build a good foundation!

Get started NOW using these 12 steps and about 30 minutes!

This month I am offering my FREE guide to my newsletter subscribers called “How to Start Your Nonfiction Book: Twelve Questions To Answer Before You Begin.” It will help you lay a firm foundation for your book that will guide your entire writing process.

If you have half your manuscript finished, or if you haven’t written a word yet, this guide will help you get clear on your intent, your focus and, ultimately, why your book will appeal to the audience you want to reach.

Want to receive your FREE copy? Just sign up for my newsletter with the form below!


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