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How to write a nonfiction book in small steps

How to Write a Nonfiction Book in Small Steps

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By Nancy Erickson, Book Coach

Have you been thinking about how to write a book, how to get published, or how to write an autobiography? Whether you’re a writer or not, is it your dream to start writing a book and becoming an author? Your dreams on how to write a book, how to make a book, or even how to write an ebook aren’t out of your reach!

When you’re learning how to write a book, you have to understand that it’s a large project, and it’s not something you’re going to accomplish overnight. So what’s the key to large projects? You break them down into tiny little steps. You’ve heard people say how do you eat an elephant. The answer is one bite at a time.

Well it’s true; what you do is you break down the task of how to start writing a book into bite-size chunks. When we do that, we develop a Book Map, which is a visual representation of your entire book. I can contend that if you only have 15 minutes, you can actually develop your strategy on how to write a book in 15 minute increments because it’s broken down in such small pieces that you can take those pieces you can write and assemble them into a comprehensive manuscript.

Your experience is unique. In fact, no one else has your story or lived through what you’ve learned. You are the only one who can do this, but if you’ve never written a book before, you probably don’t know how to get started. And how would you know? If you want to know how to start a book, how to publish a book, or how to write an eBook, The Book Professor is here to help.


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book coach book coaches writing a book online book writing courses

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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April-Webinar-how to attract an audience for your book book marketing

How to Attract an Audience for Your Book

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How to attract an audience for your bookAs a writer, you may enjoy the solitary pursuit of writing, but one thing’s for sure—when your book is finished you’ll want get it in the hands of readers. The best way to do that is to start now, even as you write your book, to attract your audience.

You may have heard the old adage that it takes seven touches to make a sale. In book marketing, that has held true. Your audience needs to hear what you’re about, to learn to respect you as you prove your expertise, and to become interested in you and enticed by what you have to say, well in advance of a purchase.

1. Define Your Audience

Before you can attract an audience, you need to know who they are. Of course, your readers are your audience, but who are they? Picture them as they walk in the bookstore. What do you see? Is it women between the ages of 30 and 50? Parents who want to instill values in their children? Business owners who are short of cash?

The key is to figure out who your audience is before you begin writing your nonfiction book because that’s the group you will influence, the group you will impact, and the group you will target when your book is complete.

2. Define Your Book’s Market

Isn’t your audience the same as your market? Not necessarily. Your market is the people/organizations/institutions that will purchase your book. For example, if you are writing a book for children, children are your audience, but they’re not your market. Your market is the person with the pocketbook – the parents.

Think about those people/organizations/institutions that might purchase your book, for example, educators if you’re writing about children, or mental health practitioners if you are writing about walking conquering depression. Try to identify at least six markets for your book – a primary market and five secondary markets. You’re going to use this information when you start reaching out to potential customers, so be thorough.

3. Classify Your Book

Part of knowing your audience is knowing where your book fits in relation to other books. In other words, what is it’s genre?

The term genre simply means a particular classification or type of book, and there are two main genres in writing: fiction and nonfiction. There are numerous sub-genres within each of these genres, and you need to know where your book fits. Why is this important? It’s important to you because you want to reach a certain audience, and people often select the books they read according to genre. That’s why bookstores divide their selections by genre—it makes it easier for people to find the books that appeal to them.

Think about your audience again. If they are looking for your book, what section will they browse in a bookstore? Assume they don’t know the book title or your name as the author. They simply want to find the information that your book delivers. Where are they going to look? Identify your book’s genre, and you will have some insight on how to reach your market.

This is the starting point for identifying your readers, but there’s more to it than simply identifying your genre. Your readers are buried within your target markets, and I want you to know how to scout them out.

4. Target Your Markets

With all the books being published, it’s more important that EVER to know your market and how to reach your audience.

So, go back to your ideal customer. They’re hard to find because they look like everyone else, so we have identify them according to what they need. And what is that? They need the SOLUTION that is found in your book. You may think, “I know who they are – generally – but I don’t know how to get to them specifically.”

Go back to your list you made of primary and secondary markets and create a detailed plan to reach them. Do this before your book is finished, so you’ll be ready to get your book in their hands when it’s published.


 

 

 

 


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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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5 powerful quotes for aspiring authors

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inspiration for writers aspiring authors quotes

Every aspiring author has moments of doubt and frustration – times where the finish line seems far away and their purpose seems unclear. I’ve gathered together a few of my very favorite quotes for aspiring authors – particularly my nonfiction writers crafting memoirs, biographies, motivation books, business guides, and the like. I hope these will inspire you to always, always, keep writing!

I encourage you to pin these quotes and share them on Facebook to inspire the aspiring authors in your life!

Inspiring Quotes for aspiring authors5. “Every writer I know seems to agree on the same thing: You need to write, a lot.”

Thanks to Goodreads for sharing this. The Goodreads Pinterest feed is a constant source of inspiration and my go-to in moments of occasional writer’s block.

 


inspiring quotes for authors write something ben franklin4. “Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing.”
-Ben Franklin

As someone who works closely with aspiring authors who aren’t necessarily professional writers – primarily, people with something they need to share with the world – I find this quote from Benjamin Franklin particularly powerful. This quote was the seed of inspiration for many powerful memoirs.

 


john steinbeck quote how to write a book3. “Abandon the idea that you are ever going to finish…”
-John Steinbeck

As a nonfiction book consultant and writing coach, I teach my students how to plan out their book writing journey with through their BookMAP. I’m hardly a proponent of losing focus of your book’s content, but this quote by John Steinbeck is powerful advice for many writers that I work with. Instead of getting caught up in questions like, “How do I write my book?” and “How long should it be?,” there is some value in writing until you’ve said what you needed to say.


Amy Tan quote for writers gift how to write a book2. “Writing is an extreme privilege, but it’s also a gift…”
– Amy Tan

I wholeheartedly believe our world is in crisis, on so many levels – one that government can’t fix. It is through the power of everyday people that change happens – those who share their wisdom and knowledge with one another through memoirs, nonfiction books, stories of triumph and guides filled with wisdom. Sharing your gift is a truly a duty. 


power-of-books-inspiration for writers nonfiction writing coach1. “One must be careful with books, and what is inside of them, for words have the power to change us.”
-Cassandra Clare

 

This quote is from Cassandra Clare’s brilliant book, Clockwork Angel.

An excerpt:

Will grinned, “Some of these books are dangerous,” he said. “It’s wise to be careful.”

“One must always be careful with books,” said Tessa, “and what is inside them, for words have the power to change us.”

What is your story to share? How will you change the world? Do you know something that can save lives or change lives? I want to help you do that with a book. You don’t have to be a writer to write something extraordinary.

Considering working with me to complete a nonfiction book that will serve to build your authority, solve real world problems, grow your following, and transform society.

Are you ready to write your book?

Get My Book Out!™ is an online writing class that gives you a step-by-step framework that will help you write your nonfiction book in less than one year. Learn more & register here to start today.

I also lead groups of executives through group coaching sessions online as they write business leadership books. Learn about my group book coaching for executives.

Have you already started writing but need a professional book writing consultant and editor to help shape your book for publishing?

I offer professional nonfiction book editing services, ghostwriting assistance, and personal writing coach services on a 1-to-1 basis.

Let’s work to create a book that will establish you as an expert.

Reach out to start writing your book.


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How do you tell your story? 1

How do you tell your story?

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All you have to do is tell your story. But how do you explain who you are? How do take your entire life and create a crystallized message?

The first step is to build a foundation for your story, and you can do that by answering these two questions:

1. What’s the purpose of your story?

You probably have some general ideas about what you want to say, but I challenge you to distill those ideas 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 inspire others to use what they know and what they’ve experienced to make a positive, lasting impact on the lives of other people.

2. Who’s the audience?

If you don’t know your audience, it’s a lot 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 entrepreneurs and business people.

Pull it all together.

Now pull these components together into a single statement.

Example: The purpose of my story is to inspire entrepreneurs and business people to use what they know and what they’ve experienced to make a positive, lasting impact on the lives of other people.

write your story from the perspective of your reader

Now that you have your Purpose Statement, you will 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.

To crystallize your message, include only the parts of your story that drives your audience to realize that purpose. Everything you write should drive toward that message, that audience, and that purpose, in order to achieve that result.


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Ten Fatal Mistakes Made By Self-Published Authors

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Ten Fatal Mistakes That
Self-Published Authors Make

I own a professional publishing company and receive numerous submissions each year from writers who want to be published. I only work with nonfiction, so the manuscripts are usually from nonprofessional writers who have experienced or learned something that will either save lives, change lives, or have a positive impact on society. Because the writers are amateurs, their writing is usually substandard, and I rarely find a manuscript I can publish. Here are ten common mistakes that send their work to my recycling bin:

1. They think they have a great idea.

Before you start writing, make sure you have an original idea. How do you do that? Research, research, research! Read other books in the same genre and on the same topic, and if you find that your message has already been delivered, then save yourself the time and aggravation of writing a book. Better yet, find a unique angle about that topic and write to that perspective.

2. They love their own writing.

Seasoned authors know the value of outside criticism and will seek it at every opportunity. Amateur writers think that if they scored well in high school English, that they write well and don’t need any feedback. That’s a big mistake. You’re probably not as good as you think you are, and neither am I. An overconfident attitude produces the kind of sloppy writing I toss aside.

3. They think writing will be easy.

Writing isn’t easy and it never has been. It’s a hard discipline and very few can hack it. If it were easy, you would have already written your book! No one has ever accidentally written a book, and neither will you. You must create disciplined deadlines and be accountable to them. Write all the time; practice makes perfect. As Agatha Christie said, “Write even when you don’t want to, don’t much like what you are writing, and aren’t writing particularly well.”

 4. They don’t know how to start a book.

Think about how you would start any multi-layered project, like building a house. You’d start with a plan wouldn’t you? Your book project should also begin with a plan that you can execute, which will carry you from concept to cover. You must know what you’re trying to accomplish in order to hit the goal. Begin by answering these foundational questions, then write a book that is targeted to your answers.

  • What purpose will the book serve?
  • How is it different from other books published on this same subject?
  • What is the main theme of your story? Secondary themes?
  • What new information or angle does your story present that hasn’t already been heard?
  • Why will people want to read this story?
  • Who is your audience? Define your primary and secondary markets.
  • How will this work impact that audience?
  • What change do you want to invoke in the reader?
  • Why would others recommend this book to others?
  • Finish the sentence: “The purpose of this book is to ­­­­­­­­___________________.”
  • Who would you like to endorse your book? Another expert in the field? A celebrity? Figure that out, then write the kind of book that person would endorse.

5. They don’t exhaust the language or expand their style.

Readers appreciate a varied vocabulary, but are impatient with the repetition of words, phrases, and sentence structure. Be sure that your writing is interesting, that there’s a mixture of sentence styles, that you’ve employed active language, and that your verbs are sharp and distinctive. Language matters.

6. They don’t understand grammar and punctuation.

You may not understand the rules of grammar and punctuation, but that doesn’t mean that others don’t. They do, and they’ll spot your mistakes in a flash. There are strict rules for both grammar and punctuation, and you better sharpen those skills if you don’t want to be dismissed.

7. They won’t invest.

So maybe you’re not good at grammar and punctuation? Hire an editor. Not sure if there are mistakes in your manuscript? Hire a proofreader. If you want to self-publish, then hire a professional cover designer and interior designer. Just because you can do everything yourself, that doesn’t mean you should. This is a specialized, professional industry, and you should work with professionals.

8. They trust the opinions of their friends.

Friends and family are great, but they have limitations when it comes to offering you objective feedback. When it comes to writing a book, their opinion doesn’t count. They are inexperienced, care too much about your feelings, and may only tell you what you want to hear. Seek an outside opinion from a professional editor who is trained to critique writing. But brace yourself—this could hurt! Be eager to make the necessary changes to meet professional standards.

9. They don’t know how to end the book.

Your opening line is important, but the ending can make or break a book. How and where do you stop? Decide if you want to tie your story in a neat bow or allow it to continue. Write three or four endings, then choose the one that is most satisfying. Moreover, be sure to tie up loose strings on all subplots, and revisit those foundational questions to be sure you’ve accomplished your stated goals.

10. They are in a hurry.

Amateur authors often set unreasonable deadlines, then latch onto them for dear life. Come hell or high water, they’re going to get their book finished by Christmas, or their birthday, or by any other manufactured deadline that has nothing to do with the book itself. Know this: by the time you’re in the home stretch, you’re going to be sick of your book. You may even hate it. But that doesn’t mean that you push it out the door just to get rid of it. Pull back and be thorough with every edit, with every research item, with every jot and tittle. Exercise a firm discipline and slow down, so you can produce a professional and polished manuscript and become an author, not merely a writer.


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Do it NOW!

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So, you like the thought of writing a book, and you have an idea that keeps rolling around in your head, but that’s all your great idea does – it lives in your head. Wouldn’t you like to get that book out?

It’s hard to start a book. You have so much to say, need to organize your thoughts, you have a full-time job that gets in the way and children to care for after work, and by the time you have time to write, you’re too tired to write. Don’t worry! There is a solution.

One of the best ways to write a book is in small time boxes. I recently heard that you can get your daily allotment of physical exercise in ten-minute increments, done several times a day, which sounds a lot more manageable than slogging it out on a treadmill for an hour. Writing is like that, too.

Do you have fifteen minutes? Sure you do. Plant yourself at your computer or on a park bench or in the front seat of your car and WRITE SOMETHING — maybe it’s a childhood memory you want to capture, or the description of the crisp, fall air that will set a scene, or a conversation you overheard that would make great dialogue. Get it down, and do it now!

I normally feel like I need to clear my head before I start writing, and maybe you’re like that, too. Here’s a tip on how I move myself from overactive brain mode to writing mode in under a minute:

1. Sit down, close your eyes, and take a deep breath.
2. Picture an inanimate object that you find simple to describe. It could be a paperclip, your favorite mug, a pen, a shoe, a penny, etc.
3. Now let the words pop that describe that object: shiny, hard, silver, twisted, blue, slick, sharp, and on and on.
4. Once you’ve exhausted your vocabulary, open your eyes and start writing something that will contribute to your book.

You don’t need hours to write, you don’t have to have all your menial tasks finished first, you don’t even need to be at your computer. All you really need is fifteen minutes and the back of a napkin. If you practice this several times a day, you’ll develop a writing habit and will build the bricks of your book that you can be pieced together.


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