Use these expert-level strategies to write a stronger book manuscript.
Writing isn’t easy. Even successful authors with several publications under their belt know that every book takes dedication, time, and hard work.
That’s why it’s important to learn from those who’ve already done it. We’ve rounded up the seven top tips for writing a nonfiction book that have helped expert writers produce great manuscripts and achieve success in publishing.
So grab your pencil, open a Word doc, and get ready to write like the pros!
Tip 1: Narrow down which type of nonfiction book you’re writing
Just as fiction books can be divided into subcategories like romance, science fiction, or literary fiction, nonfiction books can fall into different categories, too. It’s important for you to have clarity on which type you’re writing.
For example, say you want to write a business book. Will that be a how-to book to help others in your industry with a specific problem, or will it be a book introducing new ideas into the field? If you’re writing about your own life, will it be an autobiography? A memoir? A self-help book based on your experiences?
These distinctions are important because you will need to seek out tips and best practices specifically suited to your subcategory of nonfiction.
Here are some common genres we help nonfiction writers produce, and a little more about how to write each type:
Overcomer book (writing about pain, triumph, and hope)
Identify your ideal reader and what they want
Not everyone is your audience. You need to identify the specific type of person who is likely to read your book. For example, a book about management is likely to appeal to business owners or employees aspiring to move up the ranks. It’s less likely to thrill a retired person looking to start their post-career adventures.
Figure out who your ideal reader is, what they want, and the kind of information that will help them. What is their average age? What kind of job do they have? What are their hobbies and values? Then ask yourself how your book can give them what they need.
When you write without doing this step, you may not connect with your intended audience. Your message won’t make it to the people who need it, and your effort won’t have the impact you had hoped for.
Once you have a stronger sense of your audience, it will be easier to connect with them—something that is critical for the success of any book.
Find the theme of your book
This is one of the most important tips for writing a nonfiction book, and you’ll be working on it throughout the drafting process.
Begin thinking about “theme” before you’ve even typed a sentence or put pen to paper. Figure out your book’s purpose statement—why you’re writing the book, who you’re writing for, and how it will help them. This will give you a loose idea of a theme or themes that can guide your book. As you work on your first draft, these ideas will grow, and eventually a solid theme will emerge that ties your book together.
Learn more about the five-step process to finding your theme.
Choose your writing style
Once you’ve put your material together, you have to decide what style to write in. How will your writing “voice” actually sound? How formal (or not) is the tone of this book?
There are four main writing styles an author might use for nonfiction:
- Authoritative—focuses on facts, very formal
- Lyrical—descriptive and flowery
- Conversational—writing the way you speak
- Accessible—everyday language, crisp, efficient words
However, some of these styles work better than others for certain types of books. Learn more about which style is best for your project.
Use time blocking
Many authors find that between family, work, and social commitments, it’s hard to snatch some uninterrupted writing time. Time blocking helps you create that space. It organizes your day into “blocks” of time so that you can use your waking hours more efficiently.
By blocking off a writing period, you’re essentially setting an appointment with yourself—an appointment that you can ask friends and family to respect. You can give yourself permission to let the phone go to voicemail or ignore that chore you just thought of and finish your daily wordcount instead.
Time blocking can help ensure that no task gets left behind. Because each item for the day has a preset end time, you won’t eat up all of your time on one item and realize there’s no time left for others.
Find the right online tools
The internet offers today’s writers a buffet of online tools to help you write smarter and faster. Become familiar with the different categories of online writing tools and how they can help your process.
- Online document storage, for keeping your work in the cloud.
- Notetaking tools to help you gather and organize info as you draft your work.
- Writing software to help you actually get the words on paper.
- Writing coaches to help you stay on task and overcome hurdles.
- Focus tools to keep you from getting distracted while you write.
- Speech to text tools, for when you’re tired of typing.
- Spelling and grammar checkers to help catch mistakes.
You should carefully compare and contrast different online writing tools. No two are identical, and you may find that one fits your needs more than another.
So do your research and pick what works for you!
Find a writing coach
You can’t be an expert in everything. Chances are, if you’re writing a book, you’re an expert in your subject matter, be it your life experiences, your profession, or your hobbies.
Being an expert in your field doesn’t necessarily make you an expert at writing nonfiction books about it.
Many aspiring authors learn this the hard way when they make it partway into a manuscript and then get stuck, unsure how to organize the material and proceed. I know all about this subject, they think to themselves. Why can’t I get it on paper?
Worse, some put in the hard work of completing and publishing a book, but the result is sub-par material that won’t reach a wide audience.
Let an expert writing coach guide you through the writing process to ensure that your book’s structure, writing, and editing are done right. You be the expert in your subject matter and let your writing coach be the expert in drafting and editing.
There are plenty of coaching programs out there. Choose the right one for you.
Need more expert help?
There’s no substitute for the ongoing feedback and encouragement of a professional writing coach or writing group.
The Book Professor® offers coaching in different formats to meet your needs. Join an Executive Group MASTERMIND course and follow along with other authors through curriculum designed to guide your writing process from first draft to publication day. Or, if groups aren’t your thing, opt for personal coaching.
What are you waiting for? Contact The Book Professor® today!