nonfiction writing Archives - Write a Nonfiction Book with The Book Professor

Tag Archives: nonfiction writing

  • 0

Writing a Book-Time, It’s Not On Our Side

Tags : 

Writing a Book is Possible-Even With a Busy Life

Time is on my side, yes it is.

Time is on my side, yes it is.

For you music buffs out there, can you name that tune? I’ll give you a hint. It was first recorded by R&B artist Irma Thompson in 1964 and then later that same year, it was re-recorded by one of the most influential rock groups in our culture. If you guessed “Time Is On My Side” by  The Rolling Stones, then you’re right! Whether you prefer the original version by Irma Thompson, or undoubtedly the most popular version by The Rolling Stones, the lyrics are still fantastic and bring back some great memories.

You might be thinking, what does that song have to do with writing a book? More than you might realize. In fact, the excuse of “I don’t have time right now” is one of the biggest objections I hear from people who put their book on hold. In other words, they believe that time is on their side, and they don’t need to write their book right now. They’re too busy with life and will wait till the time is right. What’s the rush?

Yes, there are some seasons in life that can require more from us mentally, physically, and emotionally, but if you’re waiting for your life to be uneventful so you can write your nonfiction book, then it probably won’t ever get written.

You Will Never Be Less Busy

It doesn’t matter if your passion is about a new business process that can save time and dollars. It can be a memoir about overcoming pain and suffering, or how to connect on a soul-level with your dog: if you have a passionate solution, someone else needs it! People don’t buy books; they buy solutions.

Someone is looking for what’s trapped inside of you, but you’re not sure that now is the right time to jump in and write your book. Guess what? You will never be less busy than you are now! This year is going to pass by anyway, and you may as well have something to show for it.

If you were sitting in front of me instead of reading this blog, here’s what I’d say to you:

Time - You will never be less busy

 

If you or someone you know is ready to share your story with the world,  contact us today and we can help you with the next step! For more information on our class offerings, please visit us at www.thebookprofessor.com.


  • 0

Make a Decision and Plan to Write a Nonfiction Book

Tags : 

Some people are lifelong learners and love the process of going from not knowing anything in a subject area to becoming proficient, like learning to write a nonfiction book. That makes sense. We all want to be the best we can be. But along the way, we have to learn a lot of little things that can either make us the best at what we do or, if we choose not to learn them, will keep us in the pack of average Joes.

But here’s the deal with me: I only want to know as much as I need to know to use a tool for my intended purpose. In fact, I detest the learning curve. I generally try to find every possible way around it, so I can get on to the using stage. Learning frustrates me; knowing satisfies me. But that’s, unfortunately, not the way the world works. So to know something, I must go through the pain of learning. And I have to follow a process, but I can’t even do that if I haven’t made the decision to do something new and follow through.

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.
—Lao-tzu

Make a Decision

You know what the hardest part about learning to write a nonfiction book is? It’s making the decision to do it. You’ve probably had the idea for your book for some time. I bet it’s been percolating in your head, begging to come out. At times, it probably drives you crazy. But books don’t write themselves, so the only way yours is going to get written is if you make the decision to do it. It’s your story. Only you can write it.

Whenever I travel, it seems I’m seated next to a chatty type, and it’s always fun to get acquainted. On one flight, I sat next to Don, and he and I discussed the usual getting-to-know-you topics. When he asked me what I do for work, I explained that I help people who aren’t writers become authors of high-impact nonfiction books.

“Really?” Don replied. “I’ve always wanted to write a book.”

“Then why don’t you?” I asked.

“I’ve never really looked into it,” he said.

Don’s answer spoke volumes. He’d flirted with the idea of writing a book but had never taken it further than just thatthe idea of writing a book. People tend to glamorize the writer’s life; they don’t realize that it’s a lot of hard work, and it takes a lot of time. Don never made the decision to write his book, so it’s unlikely that he ever will.

Create a Plan

If you don’t know how to write a nonfiction book, how could you know how to get started?

Some people just sit down and start writing. But they soon discover that all the ideas that have been rattling around in their head have no form, no shape. What comes out is like a spaghetti messa bunch of unconnected threads. They have a message, but they don’t know how to get it down on paper. The problem with the “write-first” approach is that it’s like trying to build a house without any plans. You have no blueprint to follow, no foundation poured; and you don’t know what the house will look like when it’s finished. 

I don’t know a lot about building, but I do know that you don’t put up the walls first. The walls have to be attached to something solid. So before you build anything, you pour the foundation. But even before that, you need a comprehensive plan—a blueprint that shows where each room will be and what features it will have. Before you pull out your hammer, you have to have a plan.

The same is true for your book. If you want to save time, energy, money, and frustration, you begin with the end in mind. You take the concept for your book and turn it into a concrete plan.

To do that, we start with the foundation. You may know the topic of your book, but do you know what you want your book to accomplish? If the book doesn’t have a purpose, why write it?

If you don’t know how to write a book, that doesn’t mean you can’t do it. After making a decision—a commitment to share your story—you just need a plan and a process.


  • 0

The Power of Writing a Nonfiction Book

Tags : 

A few years after I began helping people to start writing a nonfiction book, I completely stopped watching the news on television. When I watched the news, it was always negative—filled with terrorist acts, racial violence, bullying politicians, natural disasters, global warming, AIDS, Ebola, Zika virus, mass shootings, heroin overdoses, abused animals, and mistreated children, elders, and women. I had to stop taking it in.

But my aversion to television news doesn’t mean I’m uninformed. I catch the news on the radio or find it online, where it doesn’t affect me as deeply as when I viewed it. Yet I often feel completely overwhelmed by the complex problems in our world. We have so many problems that we don’t even know how to name them anymore. But we do know what doesn’t work. Top-down solutions don’t work. Government can’t fix anything; organized religion hasn’t solved our problems; and heaven knows, we’ve tried to medicate our problems away. In many cases, these attempts have not only complicated the original problem but have spawned entirely new problems.

But there is a solution. I believe that our problems—all of them—can be solved and that the answers are trapped inside people like you. When you share what you know and what you’ve learned—when you start writing a nonfiction book—you become the solution. Someone needs to hear your message.

Woman staring into field

Hope and Help

There are two things I believe people can’t live without—apart from food, water, and air. Those two things are hope and help.

People need hope that things can and will get better; and they need help to get from where they are to where they want to be.

Nancy Erickson

When you start writing a nonfiction book, when you share what you’ve been through, what you’ve learned, what you’ve overcome, what you’ve developed, or the path you took, you become the voice of hope and help.

You see, there are people like you who have the answers, who have certain solutions. And then there are other people who, in some cases, are literally dying as they wait for those answers. You have the answers they need, and you can offer the hope and help they crave simply by telling your story. You are the solution.

Think about what you’ve learned and how you can be a force that changes lives, saves lives, or transforms society. Don’t waste your pain and struggles. Share them with the world, put them to work, and let the mess become the messengerthe messenger of hope and help because someone needs to hear it.

Need help writing a nonfiction book?


  • 0

Writing Tip: Be Authentic in Your Nonfiction Writing

Tags : 

Nonfiction writing requires that we be authentic. Webster’s dictionary defines authentic as “not false or imitation” and “true to one’s own personality, spirit, or character.” Webster makes it sound so simple. But if you’re like me, it took a long time to become the person I was created to be, to truly embrace my authentic self.

As a child, did you feel pressure to become the person an authority figure thought you should be? Did you feel accepted when you behaved and acted in ways that they approved? As an adult, did you realize that the person you present to the world wasn’t really you at all, but because of an underlying need to be accepted by others, you kept up the facade anyway? For a long time, that’s what I did. Living an authentic life was something I had to learn.

Your Audience Deserves the Real You

As a nonfiction book coach, I have the opportunity to work with people from all over the world. Whether their nonfiction writing is about a new method of cooking or how they overcame a painful childhood trauma, I always tell them the same thing: your audience deserves to know the real you.

Your personal story is one of the most important parts of your book. Some writers, particularly if they’re writing a business book, want to leave out this part and simply share their knowledge or instruct the audience. That would be a mistake.

Before you can tell your readers anything, you must earn the right to be heard. Nobody likes to be told what to do, especially if they don’t know anything about you. What makes you an authority on this subject? Why should they listen to you? Those are the questions you answer when you share your own story.

And your readers don’t want the whitewashed version of you. Share your high points and the deep canyons, the wins and the demoralizing losses, the beautiful and the ugly. You must be real and transparent. When you’re open and honest, you give the reader permission to be open and honest, too.

I’m not saying it’s easy. It takes a lot of courage to be this vulnerable. We all want to put our best foot forward to make a good impression. We like to hide the messes we’ve made, but sometimes the mess has become your message.

That’s what’s so effective about my Executive Group Coaching classes. You get to share your failures and foibles in a safe place, test out your message with others in the class, and gain strength from doing so—before you bare your skin to the world.

What about you? Are you ready to show people who you really are?  If you or someone you know wants to learn to how to write a nonfiction book, please contact us today!

 


  • 0

NEW Book Marketing Services from The Book Professor!

Tags : 

You got your story out of your head and onto paper. Your book is finally finished. But how will people know that your book is available? How will they find YOUR book amongst the masses? Writing your book is the first hurdle; getting others to notice it is the next!

Well, look no further. We are excited to announce our NEW partnership with the prestigious Smith Publicity to offer Book Marketing Services for all of our clients!

Get Attention for Your Book and Impact Sales

Learn one-on-one from book industry experts—on your schedule, and tailored to your genre and level of expertise—specific and actionable techniques to drive awareness to your book and author platform. Marketing your book can be overwhelming. These services are designed to take away the fear and put in the fun.

How It Works

Social Media Consultation Service Offerings-$325 each

Our packages are completely customized to your skill level and needs. For example, if you’re a social media beginner, one of our experts will work with you to create your platform from scratch and teach you the basic rules of engagement. If you are already well-versed on a social media platform, but would like to execute better, our advanced experts will custom-craft a plan to work with you to optimize your existing site, incorporate your book into your postings (without offending followers), decipher analytics, and/or understand potential advertising options.

Before your call, you complete an author questionnaire that gives your consultant time to research and tailor ideas specific to your book, genre, and goals. You will also receive educational handouts or “homework” before the call(s) to help ensure your session(s) are as jam-packed as possible. At the end of the service, you receive handouts to help you continue developing ideas and techniques.

If you or someone you know is interested in marketing their book, reach out to us and we will help make it happen!

 

 

 

 


  • 0
writing tips

Nonfiction Writer Tool: Setting

Tags : 

The time and place of the action in a literary work is called the SETTING.

In literature, the setting consists of where the story takes place, as well as the time period. It is  critical to establish a setting in your story and its scenes, so that the reader can visualize it. Remember when we talked about grounding your reader and answering the journalistic questions who, what, when, where, why, and how? The when and the where are questions of time and place – and they comprise the setting. If your readers don’t know when or where the story or scene is happening, they will be lost.

Setting is, essentially, the context in which a story occurs. You know how a picture has a foreground and a background? So does a story. The main characters and their actions form the foreground. The time and place of the events and the social environment that surround these events form the background, or the setting. People exist in a particular time and place. Where we live may contribute not only to our personality, but also to our values, attitudes, and even our problems. In short, the setting can have great impact on the people in your story and what they do. 

Setting is often a critical element in a story. Can you imagine The Grapes of Wrath set anywhere but in the Dust Bowl era of California? The Scarlet Letter set anywhere but Puritan New England? The Help set anywhere but the south in the 1960s? The Hunger Games set anywhere but a dystopian future? 

Setting: Developing Time and Place

Time and place = where it happened and when. These two elements are the bedrock of your story and must be developed in order to establish and maintain credibility. It wouldn’t make any sense to write about current-day cosmetic procedures in the 1800’s or sending urgent messages by telegram in the 21st century. 

Eudora Welty once said, “Every story would be another story, and unrecognizable, if it took up its characters and plot and happened somewhere else.”

Four Types of Time

There are actually four kinds of time, and each one has a distinct role. They are clock time, calendar time, seasonal time and historical time. 

Clock time can be used to provide suspense or create certain moods or feelings. Think of the pressure of a looming deadline or the girl who sits by the phone, waiting for him to call.  

Calendar time grounds us in the day, month, year, and even a particular day of the week or time of the month. Calendar time can provide an understanding of what takes place in your writing. For example, if you’re in accounting and mention April 15th , Americans will know understand the pressures of tax time.  Others associate meaning with Friday the 13th, or July 4. In the UK Boxing Day is significant and in France, Bastille Day. 

Seasonal time, of course, refers to the four seasons, but winter in Minneapolis is a different setting from winter in Key West, Florida. And since they’re in a different hemisphere, January in Sydney, Australia is nothing like January in New York. Most of us have different lifestyles in different seasons, and even if you life in a moderate climate, it is still dark by 6:00 in December and light until after 9:00 in June.  You don’t snow ski in Vail in July, nor do you water ski in January in Missouri.

Historical time probably has the most impact on setting and can establish a psychological or sociological understanding of behaviors and attitudes. “Time” in this sense refers to specific moments in history. People communicate differently depending on the time in which they live. Americans in the 1950s, overall, communicate differently than Americans in the 2000s. Not that they necessarily speak a different language, but these two groups of people have different assumptions about the world and how to communicate based on the era in which they live. Think of the politically correct language that has replaced the pre-civil rights language from years past, and you get the point. Historical time affects the religious, mental, moral, social, and emotional climate of the setting.

Place 

Now about place. Place can include the geographical location, which can range from an entire country to a single room. I used to love to introduce my university students to the classic fiction story “Metamorphosis” by Franz Kafka, which pretty much takes place in one bedroom, where Gregor, the main character literally turns into a bug. It’s one of the most riveting pieces of literature I’ve ever read, and most of it’s contained within those four walls. 

When writing about a specific location, you might include the physical aspects of the environment. What did it look like, sound like, etc. For example, a subway station has its unique sights and sounds, as does a church. 

But there’s more to it than that. We may find significance in the location where the action occurs, but there are also nonphysical characteristics, as well as physical. And the nonphysical environment can vary from geographic location to geographic location within the same time era. Think of cultural influences such as education, social standing, economic class, and religious beliefs. These certainly vary from location to location. Education is different in Harlem in 2017 than it is in Long Island. It’s different in Catholic schools versus public schools within the same city. There are distinct differences in social standing in India today because of their caste system, in the same year, in the same city. 

Writing tip: Setting

A person’s dialogue, statements, and behavior can reveal their place in society, as well as their geographic location.

 So how do you use time and space to write an effective setting? Quite simply, you use words. Setting is created by language. 

Writing your story involves more than just describing the setting. Using psychological cues from the characters, writers can embed time and place in actions and events, at the same time revealing motivation and goals. The details should be carefully chosen to reflect the character’s inner values, thoughts, and feelings. 

Regarding time:

  • In what period of time does the story or scene take place? 
  • Are there any historical events that affect the characters? 
  • How long does it take for the action to occur? 
  • What clues can you as the author give for the passage of time? 
  • Is the passage of time important to the story? 
  • Does the slow or fast passage of time help to understand the character’s actions and thoughts? 

Regarding place: 

  • Where does the action take place?
  • In what planet, country, locale?
  • What does it look like, sound like, feel like? 
  • Is there a dominant impression of the setting? 
  • Is the geographical location important? 

Setting is, essentially, the context in which a scene or story occurs, and includes the time, the place, and the social environment. It is important to establish a setting in your story, so that the reader can visualize and participate in it.

Just a little more food for thought as you write!


  • 0

Writer’s Tip: Point of View

Tags : 

Point of View refers to the perspective from which a story is being told. It answers the question: Who is telling the story?

This is important because who is telling the story has a lot to do with what gets told. Let’s take take a look at the three different points of view and how you might use them in your writing.  They are first person, second person, and third person.

First Person Point of View

This is similar to a toddler’s vocabulary – I, me, mine, me, me, me, me ME!

When you tell a story using the pronouns I or we, you’re using first person point of view. Some think that this is the most intimate perspective and is the friendliest towards the reader. When a story is told in first person, the reader can feel like you’re their friend and that you’re confiding in them.

That’s what we aspire to, isn’t it?

 We certainly strive for intimacy with the reader, but using first person point-of-view can give rise to a couple of problems:

1.  You talk about yourself so much that you sound like a narcissist

2.  You fall prey to telling the reader everything instead of showing them

For example: “ I did this and then I did that, and then I went here, and then I bought that, and now it’s mine, and this was my problem… blah, blah, blah. Whopoint of view wants to hear that?

 Well I don’t and neither do your readers. Your readers want to hear your story, but if you take that approach, you’ll lose them for sure. Your job is to deliver your audience to the purpose of your book, and if they get sick of you halfway through, you’ll never accomplish that. 

 It’s actually simple to fix that. You don’t tell the reader what happened or what you did, you show them! Write your story in scenes where the reader sees what you saw, hears what you heard, smells what you smelled, and then feels what you felt. The reader experiences your emotion and becomes bonded to you through that shared experience.

Second Person Point of View

This POV uses the pronouns you, your, and yours.

The second person point of view addresses the reader and makes direct comments to them. This point of view is rare, but when it’s used, the reader snaps to attention because the writer is speaking directly to them.

Here’s an example: “If you are planning a low-budget wedding, then use paper products at the reception.”

OR

 “If you’re like me and are tired of struggling to make ends meet, then sell everything you haven’t used in the past year and pocket the cash.”

Before you get all excited about speaking directly to your readers and capturing their attention, let me offer a word of caution. Whenever you tell someone what to do, it can sound rather preachy, like you know it all and the reader knows nothing. No one likes to be told what to do, and not many appreciate the “you should” approach.

It’s far easier to influence the reader by showing them what you did. When you tell them what to do, it can cause them to resist you and your message. Respect your readers. Every time they turn the page, they make a choice to either continue with you or to drop off the path. Lead them along the path, and they will follow. Force them and they may jump ship.

Third Person Point of View

The third person point-of-view is a he said/she said narrative, and the associated pronouns are he, she, and they. The story is still being told from the perspective of an outsider looking at the action. This point-of-view is for when the story isn’t about you.

If you’re writing a biography about Abraham Lincoln, you might write something like this:

 “When he was twelve years old, Lincoln was growing into what would eventually become his long, lanky frame.”

In third person, You would use the pronoun “he.” If you wrote the same passage in first person, it wouldn’t make any sense. In first person, it would say “When I was twelve years old, I was growing into what would eventually become my long, lanky frame.”  That wouldn’t make sense if you were writing a biography about Lincoln.

If you’re writing your own story, it doesn’t make any sense to write it in third person. But if you’re telling a story about someone else, then third person is appropriate.

Pick and Stick

The trick is to pick a point of view and stick with it, which is challenging for many new writers. If you’re writing in first person, stick with first person, if you’re writing in second person, stick with second person, etc.

If you shift the point of view, it confuses the reader and dilutes your message, which is a common mistake that new writers make. Learn this technique and you’ll keep your readers engaged!

 

 

 

 

 

 


  • 0

Writing Tip: Conflate

Tags : 

Do you know that word – Conflate? Conflate means to combine or blend things, to fuse them into a single entity.  It’s a helpful nonfiction technique where you merge several events or conversations or relationships and present it as one single event or conversation or relationship. It allows you efficiently to cover a span of time without boring your reader to death with the blow-by-blow details when all they really need are the pertinent points.

Spare Your Readers the Unnecessary Details

Let’s say, for example, that you had umpteen conversations with your spouse about adopting a child over the course of two years. In the first conversation, you might have talked about the possibility of adoption. And you talked about that for a number of months. Then you moved on to where you could adopt a child and had numerous discussions about foreign vs. domestic adoption, older child vs. infant adoption, same race vs. other race adoption. These conversations took another several months. Finally, after two years, you made the decision to pursue a foreign adoption of an older child.

Do you need to drag your readers through all those conversations and decision points?  Maybe and maybe not. It depends upon the purpose of your book. Let’s conflate writing tipssay your book is about helping a foreign-born child assimilate into a family and culture that doesn’t look anything like them, and how to be your child’s advocate to overcome the unique obstacles they will face.

Does the reader really care about the two years you spent discussing adoption, or do they want to get to the purpose? My guess is they want the meat of your message, not your method of arrival.

So how do you handle those two years of discussion? Conflate it! Use Dialog to convey all the pertinent information, and boil it down to a couple of conversations. Here’s how you might approach it:

“I think it’s time we face the truth. We probably aren’t going to give birth our own child, but maybe we’re not supposed to.”

“It’s hard to give that up.”

“I know, honey, but we’re not getting any younger. What if we changed course while we still can? We’re not too old to adopt. I know the process takes awhile, who knows how long? If we want to have a child, I think we ought to consider this. To move in a new direction.”

“I don’t know. Maybe you’re right. It’s practically impossible to find a baby here, so I don’t know if that would be any better.”

“What if we aren’t looking for a baby? There are a lot of children who need a loving home, maybe we should think about rescuing a child, not searching for an infant.”

“One of the women in my support group showed me a picture of the orphans in Haiti. They gathered them  together after those earthquakes, but there aren’t enough adults to take care of them. One little girl – she looked about seven years old – she had the brightest eyes, but her smile, it wasn’t right. Like she knew she had to smile for the picture, but only her mouth moved. She looked really, really sad.”

You can CONFLATE two years of the backstory of how this couple decided on a foreign adoption into a single conversation, and move the action forward.

Tell Your Story Like One of the Great Storytellers

Here’s another example of conflating. Let’s say you are a teacher, and you have had numerous students with a mild form of autism. Your book is about the socialization of the classroom, and over time, you’ve learned how to help these special needs students open up and relate to their classmates. Why not illustrate that through the eyes of ONE child, not four dozen children? Why not show the experience through a single set of eyes, give that child a representative name, and use a single character to demonstrate your teaching methods?

Does this seem dishonest to you? Insincere maybe? Well, if it does, then consider this. All the great teachers were story-tellers. Jesus, Aesop, Buddha, Indian Tribal Chiefs. They taught their people valuable lessons by telling stories. Were the characters in the stories real or did they conflate a number of people or people types into one representative character?

You tell me. Who was the Good Samaritan? Who was the Prodigal Son? Does it matter? Did you learn anything about human nature through Aesop’s fables, even though the characters were animals? Are the lessons any less valuable because you can’t attach them to a specific person?

When you conflate, you tighten your writing and move your story forward. It takes practice, but your story is worth it!

 


  • 0
Featured Author: David J.P. Fisher author, become an author, write a book, feature author, self publishing, book coach, nonfiction, non fiction, nonfiction writing, nonfiction book coach

Sought-after speaker publishes business book

Tags : 

Tips to writing good copy

I am so proud of how far my client, David J.P. Fisher, has come! Not only has he published his book Networking in the 21st Century: Why Your Networking Sucks and What to do About it, he has also been able to author various versions of the book tailored specifically for LinkedIn, millennials, and within your company.

Read More

  • 0
Featured Author - Helen Gennari had her book launch party for her first book, From The Heart of An Abandoned Daughter author, become an author, write a book, feature author, self publishing, book coach, nonfiction, non fiction, nonfiction writing, nonfiction book coach, helen gennari, book launch, book launch party, book marketing

Helen Gennari publishes inspirational survival story

Tags : 

Helen Gennari is this month's Featured Author that recently celebrated with her book launch party for From The Heart of an Abandoned Daughter

Gennari’s autobiography launch party benefitted shelter for battered women

At the end of October my sweet friend and client, Helen Gennari, had a fabulous book launch party for her first book, From the Heart of an Abandoned Daughter: My Personal Journey Through Family Violence and Beyond, which benefitted Woman’s Place in St. Louis, a shelter for battered women. It has been wonderful to see her share her story about growing up with and surviving family violence and her desire to help others that struggle with similar situations.

Read More

Free Book Download

Learn How to Write a Book