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7 Classic Science Fiction Books Worth Revisiting

how to write a book non fiction

Science Fiction stories delve into all things futuristic, technological, extraterrestrial — you catch our drift. Pivotal authors in the space include Isaac Asimov, George Orwell, Philip K. Dick, N. K. Jemisin, and countless others.

In celebration of both Asimov, his peers, and the entire genre, we’ve put together a collection of sci-fi books that are always worth rereading (or reading for the first time if you’re just getting into these magical worlds of tomorrow). From fun and fascinating intergalactic travels to dystopian futures that will leave you with much to think about, these sci-fi tales are fundamental to the genre.

Foundation Series – Isaac Asimov

how to write a book non fiction

The Foundation series began as a few short stories published in the magazine Astounding Stories of Super-Science back in the 1940s and ultimately became an entire series of seven epic books. The tale is set in the distant future where a man named Hari Seldon has invented “psychohistory,” a mathematical means of predicting the future. 

Unfortunately, its predictions aren’t very flattering: They foretell a time when humanity will more or less revert back to the Dark Ages. These predictions get Seldon and his crew exiled to a distant planet known as “the Foundation,” where they attempt to shorten the period of decline to come. Apple TV+ also turned the series into a TV show and released the first season in 2021. 

Dune – Frank Herbert

how to write a book non fiction

As fans of the 2021 Dune film may know, the story is based on the 1960s book by Frank Herbert and its sequels. Dune eventually became a bit like a literary version of Star Wars, as Herbert wrote six novels in the Dune series before he passed away. Later, his son Brian and author Kevin J. Anderson teamed up to produce numerous sequels and spinoffs based on the Dune -iverse.

The saga is set in a future where noble families rule different planets under a sort of intergalactic feudal system. In the first of the six foundational novels, readers are introduced to the heir of one such distinguished group, a boy named Paul Atreides whose family is charged with ruling a planet called Arrakis. When his family is betrayed, Paul embarks on a journey that blends everything from adventure to mysticism in one of the most epic sci-fi tales of all time. 

The Left Hand of Darkness – Ursula K. Le Guin

how to write a book non fiction

While some earlier sci-fi classics tend to reflect women in the light of the times in which they were written, The Left Hand of Darkness is a whole other experience altogether. The 1969 novel follows the adventures of Genly Ai, an envoy who is sent to a stray world called Winter in an attempt to bring it back into the intergalactic fold. 

However, to stand a chance, he must overcome his own preconceptions when he’s confronted with a culture that exists entirely without gender prejudice. As Ai soon discovers, some of the creatures on Winter express multiple genders, while others don’t identify with any at all. If you’re a reader who loves to go deep, this one makes for a fascinating read. 

Nineteen Eighty-Four – George Orwell

how to write a book non fiction

While the actual 1984 may have come and gone, the dystopian novel that shares its name remains a pivotal work of science fiction. The Atlantic notes that “No novel of the past century has had more influence than George Orwell’s 1984 ,” and this assessment is indeed a fair one. Published in 1949, the story follows Winston Smith, who lives under a totalitarian government in which “the Party” controls every aspect of its citizens’ lives. 

“Big Brother,” an invisible yet omnipresent leader, is always surveilling the populace to ensure that no one commits so much as a thoughtcrime, which involves no more than thinking of rebelling against the Party. When Smith dares to think for himself, he sets off on a haunting journey that transports readers to a world that’s all too easy to imagine actually existing. While this isn’t necessarily an easy read, it’s an important one that will stay with you for years.  

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? – Philip K. Dick

how to write a book non fiction

Though you may not think you’ve heard of this one, it may be a bit more familiar than you think — it’s the inspiration behind Ridley Scott’s film, Blade Runner (1982). First published in 1968, the novel takes place in a dystopian 2021 where entire species have been eliminated by a global war. In an effort to replace live animals, which are highly prized, series of incredibly realistic androids have been developed, some of which are even fashioned after human beings. 

However, when the government becomes wary of these AI humans and their disturbing capabilities, it eventually bans them from Earth. Bounty hunter Rick Deckard is sent to “retire” any rogue androids that remain, which doesn’t prove to be an easy task. 

Kindred – Octavia E. Butler

how to write a book non fiction

Kindred has become a foundational work of sci-fi and African-American literature alike. The story follows a modern young Black woman named Dana who is suddenly deposited back in time to the pre-Civil War South. Through a series of trips between that era and her own time, Dana is forced to contend with the horrors of slavery, racism and sexism while completing a series of tasks. 

Though each journey becomes more dangerous, Dana realizes that her own family’s future depends on their successful completion. First published in 1979, the novel remains relevant today with its skillful blend of romance, sci-fi, feminism, equality and adventure. 

A Wrinkle in Time – Madeleine L’Engle

how to write a book non fiction

A Wrinkle in Time is a classic story of good vs. evil presented through an adventurous sci-fi lens. The tale follows a high school student named Meg Murray, her friend Calvin O’Keefe and her younger brother Charles Wallace. When the three are introduced to tesseracts (or wrinkles in time) by an unearthly visitor, they set off on a journey through time and space to rescue Meg’s missing scientist father.

Along the way, she learns a series of timeless life lessons about everything from the power of individuality to the resiliency of love. Appropriate for both young and adult readers alike, this one is a fun and fascinating tale that seems impossible to outgrow. 


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How to Finally Write Your Nonfiction Book

No, it will not be easy. Yes, it will be rewarding. (Eventually.)

how to write a book non fiction

By Kristin Wong

“I’d like to write a book someday.”

Like many writers, I said this for years before finally deciding to commit to the long and grueling process of publishing my first book , which is about personal finance.

Most authors would probably agree that writing a book is one of the most difficult challenges of their careers. You spend your summer inside writing while your friends post photos of their beach vacations on Instagram. Once your book is published, the work is far from over: You must now sell it like your career depends on it, because it kind of does. Failure is a constant fear, and impostor syndrome can feel overwhelming. But more often than not, it’s also completely worth it.

Consider your ‘platform’

Before you write your first word, ask yourself: Do I have an audience? And, most important: Does my idea actually appeal to readers?

“My most common recommendation for people who want to write a book is, ‘Don’t — not yet,’” said Ramit Sethi, the author of “ I Will Teach You to Be Rich .” “Build a large audience first.” Mr. Sethi, whose nonfiction personal finance book started as a blog with the same title, was able to amass hundreds of thousands of readers before he landed a book deal.

Building an audience isn’t a prerequisite, of course, and it’s certainly not easy, but publishers like authors who come with a built-in market.

Don’t write your book — yet

Many aspiring authors assume that getting started means cranking out tens of thousands of words before you approach an agent or publisher, but it might depend on the book. If you have an idea for a nonfiction book, it’s better to write a couple of chapters and then pitch a book proposal. That way, you can see if there’s any interest before you churn out 80,000 words on a given topic.

Even though you might not need to write the entire book before pitching it, it’s likely that if an agent or potential publisher likes the idea, they’ll still want to see at least two sample chapters. In any case, you’re going to want to fully flesh out your idea and write up those sample chapters before reaching out to agents, or, if you’re still building an audience, a few blog posts on your topic. Doing so will give you a deeper sense of what your book is about and what the rest of the writing process will be like — and this will also help you firm up your ideas of what the rest of the book will be like.

Decide how to publish

With traditional publishing, you’ll put together a book proposal, find an agent and then your agent will send your proposal to publishers. If those publishers like your idea, they could make you an offer. If multiple publishers like your idea your book might even go to auction, which could help you secure a more lucrative deal.

If a publisher buys your book, your advance from the publisher will likely be paid out in installments (typically two or three). How those payments are broken up varies widely, but one possible combination is a third paid on contract signing, another third on manuscript delivery, and the final third upon publication. (Though sometimes the advance is paid out in two sums, and, in some instances, four or more .) You won’t earn royalties from your book until you sell enough copies to outearn your advance.

Self-publishing means publishing your book on your own, or with the help of a self-publishing platform like Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing or CreateSpace , which is also owned by Amazon. Barnes & Noble also has a self-publishing platform .

“As a self-published author, you have more control of your work because you have more control of your deadlines and budget,” said Nailah Harvey, author of “ Look Better in Writing .” “Some people do not work well with the pressure of third-party deadlines, so self-publishing may be a better fit for their personality.” You also have full creative control over your work, Ms. Harvey said, whereas with a publisher, you may have to bend to their ideas for your book title, cover and content.

Mr. Sethi, both a traditionally published and se lf-published author , said your choice will partly depend on what’s more important to you: profit or credibility. Traditional publishing lends you the latter, while self-publishing can be more profitable because you won’t have to give a percentage of sales to an agent and publisher. On the other hand, an agent and publisher might be able to help increase your reach to make those sales.

Self-publishing also means your book will be available on only the platform you publish with, and it likely will never get on shelves in physical bookstores or libraries.

If you opt to self-publish, Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing , an online publishing platform for digital books and paperbacks, is an ideal place to start. The site includes manuscript templates you can download and follow. You’ll write, edit, proofread and format the book before uploading it for approval.

Self-publishing means you have to do all of the work, like designing a cover and proofreading, yourself (or hire people to help).

Write your book proposal

While an agent will likely want to see the completed manuscript of a novel, a nonfiction book typically requires a proposal, which is a detailed outline of what your book is and why it matters. Rather than thinking of your proposal as an introduction to the book, think of it as a business case for why it’s worth a publisher’s time and investment.

You’ll make the case for your book’s marketability in this proposal, so you’ll want to include sections on your target audience, competitive titles, a table of contents and an outline. You can find downloadable book proposal templates online. For example, the publishing platform Reedsy includes detailed explanations of what’s included in a book proposal on their blog , along with a template you can download. The literary agent Ted Weinstein shares a simple nonfiction template on his website. And Jane Friedman, a Publisher’s Weekly columnist, includes a brief outline and introduction to writing a book proposal on her website .

“If it’s a big New York publishing house, they’re probably looking for an idea with relevancy or currency in the market, combined with an author who has a platform — visibility to the intended readership,” Ms. Friedman said.

Publishers also like to see numbers. Try to quantify your platform using metrics like your combined social media followers, newsletter subscribers or monthly page views on your blog.

Find an agent

“An agent is a near-requirement if you want to be published by one of the major New York publishing houses,” Ms. Friedman said. While you can approach smaller publishing houses and university presses directly, you’ll still need someone to look over your contract. If not an agent, you’ll need to hire a literary or intellectual property lawyer once you get to that step, she added.

Start your search for an agent using databases like AgentQuery and P & W’s Agents Database . You can also search Publishers Marketplace for their deals section (subscription required) and the Association of Authors’ Representatives . A lower-tech option: Look in the back of similar books to see who the author thanks in the acknowledgments.

You may have to query multiple agents about your idea. Ideally, one of them will bite and want to represent you. Then, you’ll have a helping hand through the rest of the process. The agent will pitch your book proposal or manuscript to publishers, which can lead to getting-to-know-you meetings with publishers and editors, or both. If a publisher loves your idea, your agent will then negotiate the contract and terms with input from you as needed. It sounds simple, but this can take much more time than many writers expect.

Now it’s time to write

Start by establishing your writing habit. Don’t look at your book as a monster, 80,000-word project; view it as a collection of tiny goals and achievements you can knock off one at a time. (One way to structure this type of working: make micro-progress, or the smallest units of progress .)

“Since money can equal time in some ways, I used my steady paycheck to buy myself time to write,” said Paulette Perhach, author of “ Welcome to the Writer’s Life .” “For instance, I outsourced the cleaning of my place once a month while I went and wrote for three hours in a coffee shop.”

Ms. Perhach said she gave herself a small goal to write for one hour per day, then shared that goal with loved ones. She also joined writing groups, which can be a helpful step for many writers who may find it hard to turn in work without a real deadline. A 2014 Stanford study found that working on a team makes you feel motivated, even if you’re really working alone. If you have friends who like to write, you could organize a writer accountability group with weekly or monthly deadlines.

There are also existing groups and organizations you can join. In November, NaNoWriMo (which stands for National Novel Writing Month) encourages writers from all over the world to sign up on its website and begin working on a goal of writing a 50,000-word novel by the end of the month. Many libraries and writing centers host regular writing groups as well.

Think about schedules instead of deadlines

You’ll want to organize your writing workflow so you’re encouraged to keep up with the habit every day.

First figure out how much time you have to write each week, then schedule that writing time into your day. Some writers like to get their words out at night, after everyone has gone to bed. Others prefer to write as their first task of the day. Experiment with different times to find what works for you.

Once your writing schedule is in place, you’ll have to decide what you want to write. Books are big — where do you dig in first? In a lecture at Columbia University that was later published in “ Changing My Mind: Occasional Essays ,” the novelist Zadie Smith said there are “macro planners” and “micro managers.”

“You will recognize a macro planner from his Post-Its, from those Moleskines he insists on buying. A macro planner makes notes, organizes material, configures a plot and creates a structure — all before he writes the title page. This structural security gives him a great deal of freedom of movement,” Ms. Smith said in her lecture. Micro managers, on the other hand, have no master plan for their writing and simply figure out the ending when they get there.

Again, a little trial and error works well. You can try to just start writing your first draft, and if you find yourself stuck, start again with the outline and work from there. Or you might just try to start writing about something that excites you.

If your writing system feels chaotic, there are tools that can help you corral the mess. Scrivener is a popular writing program designed to help authors organize and research their books. When writing my book, I used a simple Excel spreadsheet that included my table of contents, along with the tasks that went with it. Each chapter also had its own separate Excel sheet that included more detail about what I wanted to include in that chapter, like interviews, references and research.

Dig in for the long haul

The most common question aspiring authors asked when I finished my book: How long did it take? It’s hard to quantify how long it took, but writing a book is an exercise in patience.

When I started to get serious about my idea, I bought “ How to Write a Book Proposal .” From there, it was two and a half years until I convinced an agent to represent my idea, and another year and a half before my book was on a shelf.

“I think you should plan for at least one year to write the first draft of a book, and a second year to rewrite it,” Ms. Perhach said. Of course, it can take much longer than this, but most writers can expect at least a couple of years to pen a book.

“Writing is like putting together Ikea furniture,” she added. “There’s a right way to do it, but nobody knows what it is.”

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Last updated on Apr 23, 2021

How to Write a Nonfiction Book in 6 Steps

Writing a nonfiction book is a good way to share your story, impart your wisdom, or even build your business. And while you may not have thought about becoming an author before, it’s not as far-fetched a goal as you might think. In this post, we'll show you a simple process for becoming a nonfiction author. Hold onto that book idea of yours, and let’s see how we can turn it into something that readers will love.

How to write a nonfiction book:

1. Determine what problem your book will solve

2. outline your book with a logical structure, 3. choose a style guide to remain consistent, 4. blast through your messy first draft, 5. revise your manuscript and check your facts, 6. choose to publish traditionally or independently.

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When you start out, your idea is likely to be nebulous or vague, e.g. “It’s a self-help book for new parents.” Before you put pen to paper, you need to crystallize and tighten your original idea, as well as think about your target audience and your author platform . Using that information and the tips below, you can validate your book idea, find a sense of direction in your writing, and prepare for when you send out a book proposal , if you want to traditionally publish. 

how to write a book non fiction


Book Proposal Template

Craft a professional pitch for your nonfiction book with our handy template.

Nail down your book idea

A key part of figuring out how to write a nonfiction book is being able to answer the three important "W" questions:

  • What is it about?
  • Why does it matter, and why should you write it?
  • Who will want to read it — or rather, who is your target audience ?

Once you can answer these questions, you can fill in the blanks below:

[The who] will read my book about [the what] because [the why].

For example: "CEOs will read my book about workplace culture because it offers insights into the practices of the top ten companies voted 'best places' to work in the USA."

Being able to distill your book down in this way is a good sign you have a solid concept, and that your book will ultimately be marketable. If you can’t answer one of those questions, it may be time to return to the drawing board and tighten up your book’s main idea.

Research your topic

Once you’ve pinned down your idea, , you’ll want to dig a bit into the topic or the nonfiction genre of your book to find the leads to develop this idea. Research is very important, and it can come in many shapes and sizes depending on the project. Here are a few of the different types of research that are suitable for certain genres.

💭 If you’re writing a memoir

We’ve got a whole guide on how to write a memoir here with more research tips, but if there’s one thing we recommend you do, it’s to interview yourself. Ask yourself questions that strangers might ask you. A simple interview like this can help you reassess your memories and pull out the important bits of your story. (And of course, you can always have someone else interview you too!) 

🔧 If you’re writing a how-to 

Your research may involve collecting all sorts of existing material on the subject — such as blog posts and previously published essays. You might want to test some of the methods out in order to home in on the most effective instructions. 

☯ If you’re writing self-help

When writing a self-help book , you might want to reach out to experts, such as psychologists and inspirational speakers, who can provide more evidence and insight to what you already know. If you're an expert yourself, you can interview yourself as you would for a memoir. It also doesn’t hurt to check out some of the best self-help books for inspiration!

how to write a book non fiction


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⏳ If you’re writing a history or biography

You’ll be gathering resources in libraries and archives, looking at primary and secondary sources on the matter. And if you’re writing about someone who’s still alive, you’ll probably need access to said person, or at least have their consent before forging on with the research. 

💼 If you’re writing a business book 

This requires a lot of understanding of the market that you’re writing about, be it the one concerning stocks or houseplants (see more of what we mean in our guide on how to write an ebook ). You have to find out who might be interested in the products you're talking about, what their habits are like, where they usually go to for advice on matters related to the product — the list goes on. If you really want to dive into this route, perhaps this free course of ours can be of some help… 

Free course: How to write a business book

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Like fiction, where story structure can make or break a narrative , nonfiction relies on the reader being able to follow the writer’s leaps of logic. Since nonfiction is all about utility, structure is of the utmost importance in guiding the reader toward the information they need. You want your structure to be coherent but also gripping, so that readers want to read on and remember what they’ve read.  

How to Write a Nonfiction Book | Book Writing Software Reedsy Book Editor

Typically, if your book is about a process, or is a how-to, a linear structure makes sense. To make things more exciting for readers, you can also choose to disrupt the linear flow and follow a list or essay structure. Not sure what these structures are? Head on to guide on how to outline a nonfiction book to find the answers (and more planning tips). 

Before you start writing, pick a style guide to follow throughout your book. What’s a style guide, you ask? It’s a set of guidelines to help keep your writing consistent. If you’ve worked with both US English and UK English, you might notice that certain things get spelled differently, i.e. ‘color’ versus ‘colour’. You should choose the variation that best suits your target audience, depending on where they’re based. A manual of style would help ensure you keep to one of those versions, along with some other details like whether you use the Oxford or serial comma, single or double quotation marks, or how to list your references. A popular guide that you might find useful is the Chicago Manual of Style . 

Why do things like this matter? Firstly, a proper guide matters to a nonfiction book because this book is supposed to be factual and accurate. Whether you’re writing popular self-help or more academic pieces, referencing will be a crucial part of your credibility, so you’ll want to nail it from the moment you start. Secondly, being consistent as you write will only help you in the editing process, preventing you from having to correct the same mistakes over and over again. 

Now the planning’s out of the way, there’s nowhere left to run: it’s time to actually sit down and write your first draft. Luckily, we've got plenty of writing tips to help you out!

Use storytelling techniques 

Almost anything is more comprehensible and memorable when told as a story. Stories are easier to follow along, they get readers invested in the topic and curious about what happens next, and they tend to be more memorable than just hard facts. Which is why you should think about the stories that you can tell through your nonfiction book, and how to get the most out of them. 

So when you use anecdotal evidence, think about the person (a.k.a. character) involved, what their motivations and feelings are. How can those motives and sensations be linked to your main point? If you can, the fact that you’re sharing will be that much more meaningful to the reader because they've associated it with a story. Of course, you shouldn’t embellish facts and end up in the realm of fiction, but an eye for narrative detail is a big asset for a nonfiction author.

Hear it from another author: Harry Freedman shared his process with us in this Reedsy Live! 

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Include dialogue 

Continuing on from the previous point, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t use dialogue in your nonfiction writing. It’s a given that you’d use it in creative nonfiction, but it’s also a great way to break up dense texts and add a human voice to your book. If you have a transcript or a record of a direct quote, you can write it as dialogue . If not, feel free to refer to what was being said as something you’ve been told, rather than something someone said. The difference is subtle (as you can see in the example below), but either way, including conversations make the writing more accessible and interesting to read. 

“I bought a lot of ice cream that week where there was a heatwave,” Joe said.  Hot weather makes people crave ice cream — I remember my neighbor, Joe, stocking up in preparation for a heatwave. 

Of course, it goes without saying that in academic writing this might not be the most conventional or professional option. But if you have a clear recording of the conversation, and you see the value of including it in your book, then you can do it. Note, however, that the formatting for dialogues in academic writing especially may be different from the ones you see in fiction writing (this is why we cannot emphasize enough the need to find an appropriate editor). 

Avoid jargon 

This just might be the most important piece of advice we can give you: keep your use of jargon and complicated language to a minimum. This does not mean that you have to cut away every expert term you have in your vocabulary, it just means you should use them mindfully. Remember that you may be writing for a quite a big audience, many of whom might not know what you’re talking about. Not only will they need you to explain the term when you first introduce it, they’ll also be less likely to remember these terms if they’ve only just met them. 

As such, you want to minimize the use of jargon in your writing. If there’s a simpler way to express something, use it. It might feel like you’re killing your darlings , but it will most likely be appreciated by your readers.If you must use specialist vocab, be sure to define it and add refreshers where necessary.

Have a writing schedule 

Our final tip is one for your process: create a writing schedule for yourself, whichever fits your own timetable and writing habits the most. Perhaps you have a day job and work best when you have a specific time to write at the end of the day. Or maybe you work better with a monthly goal of finishing certain sections and chapters in mind. Either way, setting out time to write regularly will help you progress and keep you from losing motivation.  

If you think learning how to write a nonfiction book is all about the actual writing, you’re forgetting another crucial dimension of the book business: editing. Most manuscripts go through several rounds of revisions before they reach their final form, and the first round should always be a self-edit. So don’t hold back: it’s time for you to ruthlessly edit your book . Here are some of our best tips for you. 

Double-check your facts 

It should go without saying, but this is probably the most important part of editing your nonfiction book. Whenever you refer to a fact, a historical event, or an argument that another academic has previously made, you have to make sure that it’s accurate. On top of that, you’ll have to add a footnote and reference at the end, listing your sources. You don’t want to be sharing false facts or accused of paraphrasing other’s works! 

As such, combing through and checking your facts is essential. It can be quite a tedious task, and you can never be too careful, so having a second pair of eyes on your manuscript is always a good idea.

Perfect your manuscript with professional help

The top nonfiction editors are on Reedsy, and you can meet them for free

Learn how Reedsy can help you craft a beautiful book.

Cut down on excessive information 

While we’re on the topic of facts, let’s talk about being overly informative. Can a book that’s supposed to educate ever be provide too much information? Turns out too much of anything can be bad. 

Everything in your book should link back to the main problem that you’re addressing. Sometimes it’s tempting to drop in a fun fact or anecdote that you think readers might find entertaining, but it’s important to balance that with the coherence of your book. So as you reread your first draft, think about the purpose behind the pieces of information you lay out, and remove those that don’t aid in answering the main question of your book. 

Shorten your sentences

The style guide you picked at the beginning will probably have you covered in terms of punctuation and grammar. What it can’t cover is your sentence length. Most sentences in first drafts err on the longer side — we tend to use more conjunctions than necessary to connect phrases and ideas that are interlinked. However, it’s often easier for readers to take in the details bit by bit. 

Aim for 20-30 words sentences, which should max out at about two lines in the standard Times New Roman, 12-point font. Anything longer than 50 words should be avoided as much as possible. 

Looking for more tips to refine your nonfiction writing? Reedsy editor Jenn Lien shared plenty in this seminar! 

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Self-edits all done? That means you’re ready for the next steps of your publishing journey. The next question to ask yourself is how you’ll be putting this book of yours into the world: will it be through a publisher, or will you produce the book independently? There’s a lot to consider when debating the pros and cons of traditional and self-publishing , but as a nonfiction writer, you might find doing it yourself beneficial, because:

  • Publishing is much faster without having to go through agents and publishers;
  • You probably have or are building an online presence already and can use that to effectively market your book ;
  • You get most of the royalties. 

That said, we’ll share some tips to get you ready for either pathway below. And if you’re still on the fence about the next steps, maybe this little quiz can help you out! 

Is self-publishing or traditional publishing right for you?

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If you’ve decided to become an indie author , here are some things you might want to do once you finish your manuscript. (Remember that although you’re self-publishing, you won’t have to do everything by yourself! Professional help is at hand.) 

✍ Hire an editor (if you haven’t already). At the risk of sounding like a broken record, we can’t recommend hiring a professional editor enough. A fresh perspective will always help when it comes to the nitty gritty details. 

🎨 Work with a professional cover designer. In the digital age, the decision to buy a book is arguably more heavily influenced by the appeal of the cover — it’s the thumbnails on Amazon that do much of the work! Artistic book covers like these are guaranteed to catch the eye of browsers, which is why you should definitely work with a designer. 

🌐 Get to know Amazon. We know, its influence on our lives is uncanny, but there’s hardly a better place to reach your audience than Amazon. From printing the books to promoting it, there are all the tools you need on this platform to achieve self-publishing success. This guide on Amazon self-publishing will shed some light on how that can be done. 

Traditional publishing 

Going down the traditional route means that the publisher will take care of most areas of finishing up the product, from the edit to cover design. However, to get to that point, you’ll need to follow some pretty standard steps. 

📬 Query an agent. Most large publishers don’t accept unsolicited submissions from authors, meaning they require representation from a literary agent. Some resources we have for those looking to query are:

  • Writing a Nonfiction Query Letter (with Free Sample) (blog post)
  • The Best Nonfiction Literary Agents to Submit to (directory) 

📖 Submit a book proposal. Together with an agent, you’ll have to pitch a publisher with a book proposal. This proposal includes your book’s synopsis, its target audience and competitive titles, as well as a sample of one or two of the chapters. So while you don’t need a complete manuscript before you submit, a rough draft will no doubt be helpful. For a bit more detail on the process, check out our free course on how to submit a nonfiction proposal. 

Free course: How to submit a book proposal

Get publishers excited about your nonfiction book in this 10-day online course.

Now that you know how to write a nonfiction book, the publishing world is your oyster! Whatever path you take, we wish you the best of luck. And if you do decide to publish, we can’t wait to see what you’ve created. 

David Irvine says:

05/12/2019 – 16:58

I self-published all my books for free using the Amazon KDP software. It was a bit of a high learning curve but worth the time and effort. You can also create a really nice front cover using their cover creator. Anyway, nice write up with plenty of good tips for writers seeking to get published.

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The Creative Penn

Writing, self-publishing, book marketing, making a living with your writing

How To Write A Non-Fiction Book: A Step By Step Guide Through The Process

Do you want to write a non-fiction book? Are you struggling with where to start or how to get it done?

This article will take you through a step-by-step guide to the process. It starts with thinking about your book and structuring it before diving into the actual writing.

how to write a non fiction book

If you need more help, check out How to Write Non-Fiction: Turn Your Knowledge Into Words , available in ebook, print, audiobook, workbook and Large Print editions.

The more work you do upfront, the easier the book will be to produce.

I’m currently writing my fifteenth non-fiction book with more planned, and my process is quite defined these days. I find writing non-fiction books a ‘palate cleanser’ between novels. It’s a very different form of writing, more structured and more aimed at helping others.

This article is relevant for most non-fiction, but excludes memoir or narrative non-fiction , as they are quite specific forms.

(1) Decide on your definition of success

Before you jump into actually writing, it’s worth deciding on your own definition of success as this can be critical to whether the process is satisfying for you.

Some authors ‘just want to help people’ with their non-fiction books, others want to win literary prizes, others want to make money. It’s very unlikely that the same book will satisfy all of these desires, so you have to decide which is most important to you.

These are the main reasons why authors want to write non-fiction books in particular and some of the possible definitions of success:

  • You want to help people around a specific topic and usually you will have been through an experience yourself that drives the writing of the book. This was my experience with Career Change , a book I wrote to change my own life and now helps others discover what they really want to do. It sells small numbers consistently every month but it’s not a book I spend time marketing. It was my first book and it’s successful because I finished it, published it and it continues to help people.
  • You have a business already and want a book to demonstrate authority, augment your business and open doors to speaking and other business opportunities. The point of the book is not necessarily to make money in itself but to drive people to the rest of your business. This is the ‘book as business card’ model. For example, my book, How to Make a Living with your Writing , drives people to my other books and courses. The aim of the book is to provide an introduction to that extended material. The definition of success is based on how many people sign up to a specific email list, and we’ll explore these possible business models a little further on in the article.
  • You are deeply fascinated with a topic and want to produce a seminal work on it. These are the type of non-fiction books that go on to win literary prizes, books that may be commissioned and that consume the author for a long time. One example would be The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer by Siddhartha Mukherjee , which won the Pulitzer Prize.
  • You have an audience and write to fulfill their needs , which often coincide with your own interests. I started out writing non-fiction to learn what I needed to know myself about self-publishing and book marketing. I discover what I think by writing a book about it these days. I wrote How to Market a Book when I was learning about marketing, and Business for Authors: How to be an Author Entrepreneur , as my own writing career transitioned into a global business.
  • You want to use non-fiction book sales as the basis of your income , so you want to write multiple books in a niche and dominate that market. Some authors do make a full-time living writing these kinds of books. One example is Joseph Alexander who dominates the guitar niche on Amazon.

Once you have decided on your definition of success, you must then decide on the specific topic for your book.

(2) Decide on the specific topic for your book

You’ll most likely have some idea of the broader aspects/topic of your book. Some examples might be:

  • You’re a speaker on corporate communication
  • You’ve discovered a diet that works for you
  • You’re an expert on the history of the USA

But now you need to narrow the topic down further.

Joanna Penn reading

Firstly, put yourself in the mind of the reader . Why do people READ non-fiction? And how does that relate to your idea?

  • They want an answer to a specific problem . This explains the popularity of weight loss and self-help books every January. What specific problem will your book solve?
  • They are interested in a specific topic and buy lots of books on that area. I have a ton of books on writing, and most likely, so do you! What sub-categories does your book fit into on the online bookstore and is this a niche that people are buying lots of books in?
  • They like the writer . This is why anyone with a large platform will likely get a book deal. Just check out those YouTubers, celebs and anyone with a big enough blog or podcast or TED talk. If you have an audience, you can get a book deal because people will buy and read it anyway. Do you have an audience already? What do they want from you?

These questions will help you define your target market, your ideal reader.

If you already have an author platform, a blog, podcast, speaking or other business, then you will already know who your readers are, but for many non-fiction writers, a consideration of audience comes after the book is written and they are wondering how to market it. But understanding who your reader is in advance of writing will help a lot , and any time spent on it now will help later on.

Next, research your niche on the bookstores.

You should know of 5-10 books that are similar to the book you want to write, or at least are targeted to the same audience.

writing memoir

These questions should help you narrow down the specific topic you want to tackle in the book as well as your target market. Expanding on my earlier examples, the more specific topics might be:

  • Employee engagement: how to communicate to employees in order to drive your business to success. Aimed at CEOs and corporate managers.
  • Easy gluten-free and vegan dieting for weight loss and health. Aimed at busy women who have struggled with other diets and can’t spend a long time in the kitchen preparing food.
  • Military history of the USA in the 20th century, and how that has shaped the current situation. Aimed at men who buy in the Military history category and intended to be the first in a series on US military history.

[If you need help with researching categories, check out this tutorial on choosing categories from Dave Chesson of Kindlepreneur. ]

(3) Brainstorm your table of contents and get into the research fun!

business TOC

Now you have your specific topic, you can brainstorm what areas you will explore in detail in the book. At this point, you want to go wild, and just put everything down. You’ll likely cut a lot of it out and some of your ideas might even end up in another book.

For example, when I wrote Business for Authors , I had a whole section on mindset. But it turned into a monster topic so I carved that part off and wrote The Successful Author Mindset .

This part of the process is where I start to use Scrivener . I create a project for the book and a document per idea. Many of those will be concatenated or discarded later but I will just write down anything that comes to mind at this stage. You can use a Word document or Evernote or physical index cards, but you do need to capture everything at this stage, even just a few words per idea.

This is also the time to focus on research and expanding your knowledge on whatever topic you’re writing on. I usually read a number of other books on the topic to get more ideas and because I’m a research junkie, I can definitely spend a lot of time on this part of the process!

Some authors can get stuck in this phase for way too long, so set some deadlines and make sure you keep focused on the final result.

For more productivity tips, check out Productivity for Authors.

how to write a book non fiction

(4) Decide on your book title

I always like to know my book title upfront, but of course, you can decide on it later.

Non-fiction book titles have an advantage over fiction because they can be keyword rich and specific enough to be found through search as well as still making sense to the reader, whereas fiction is pretty much impossible to title with related keywords.

For example, my thriller, Gates of Hell , is more likely to be found by those shopping in the sub-categories of action adventure and supernatural thriller, rather than by people specifically searching for ‘gates of hell.’

Readers of non-fiction often shop by sub-category or by keyword search e.g. my book, How to Market a Book , is titled specifically for keyword search reasons and comes up at the #1 spot on Amazon for that search term.

But how do you know what readers are searching for?


Just go to Amazon and do some research using the search bar within the Kindle sub-category. Start typing and there will be a text drop-down as above that includes the most popular search terms people are looking for.

This will give you some ideas as to what people want and you may find it surprising!

I spend a good amount of time thinking about different words and checking them out this way before I decide on a title. Longer keywords (keyword phrases) are sometimes even more useful , so I will just add a letter on the end of the search e.g. gluten free a, gluten free b, gluten free c, in order to see what else is there.

Write down as many relevant keywords as you can find, even if you don’t use them in the title, as these will be useful later if you self-publish.

Choosing the right sub-categories and keywords  is one of the most important aspects of self-publishing. I’ve recently used a couple of reasonably-priced reports from  K-lytics to determine the data to use for new books and also repositioning older ones. I hate fiddling around with data so it’s great to find someone who loves it and makes it easier for us all!

You can also use Publisher Rocket which helps you mine Amazon for keyword options.

If you need more help, check out this tutorial on choosing keywords by Dave Chesson from Kindlepreneur

Publisher Rocket

(5) Create your first draft

You may already have a lot of material for the book in some form. If you’re a speaker on a topic, you might have a PowerPoint or KeyNote deck or handouts. You might have piles of notes for your research or lists of recipes. Or it might just all be in your head.

Now you have to turn that into a first draft … and this can be harder than it sounds! Most people who want to write a book never finish one and completing a first draft is usually where they fall down.

My definition of a first draft is a version of your book that can be read end to end and stands as a coherent whole. It doesn’t have “fill this in later,” or “write other section here,” in it.

Yes, it will be rough, and it will need editing, but to get to a finished book, you need a first draft to work on. Your finished book can be equated to Michelangelo’s David, a perfect statue that emerged from the rough block of marble. But first you have to create that block of marble, and for authors, that’s the first draft.

Here are some tips for getting it done:

Dictate your book

This is particularly good if you’re a speaker already and you have a lot of material in powerpoint slides or even recordings of your talks or even just rough notes. Speak into a digital recorder, create an mp3 file and then use a service like Otter.ai, Descript.com, Trint or Speechpad to get that transcribed into text, which you can then take into the editing phase. Click here for more tips on how to dictate your book.

how to dictate your book

Use timed writing sessions

This method changed my own writing life as if you allocate a specific time to write when you’re not allowed to do anything else, you WILL produce something!

I generally write first draft material away from the desk I use for other things – like blogging, podcasting, email, social media and other business stuff. I find it easier to create elsewhere so I go to a library or a coffee shop or just another area of the house. I set my timer, plug in my earphones and turn on rain and thunderstorms and write.

For non-fiction, it can help to focus on a chapter at a time during these timed writing sessions. If you write 2000 words per session and you’re aiming for 60,000 words, it will take 30 writing sessions. Do the math and schedule the sessions. No excuses!

Monitor your progress

mindset book

I use Scrivener flags to indicate my progress through the draft, as per the example shown left. When I brainstorm topics and just dump words into the chapter, I leave the document as a default white. When I have ‘processed’ the chapter and written it into a first draft state, I add a yellow flag. I use blue and green flags for different parts of the editing process.

Once the whole project has yellow flags, my first draft is done and I can move into editing (covered further below).

project targets

You can use Scrivener to set word count goals for the whole book and also for each writing session to keep you accountable. I’m pretty much obsessive about checking these per session as I love watching the status bar turn green!

Once you have a first draft, you can start to think seriously about the next steps.

You can find more information on publishing and marketing on this site, just click the links, as they are completely separate topics.

For non-fiction authors, you will want to consider how the book fits into your existing business, or how you can use it to build one.

(6) Design and incorporate your funnel and back-end products

A ‘funnel’ is a way to direct your readers through a journey with you, preferably through your books, services and other products, so that they are a happy customer and you make a decent return.

For fiction authors, the funnel usually involves a series or books in a similar genre as well as getting people onto your email list.

For example, if you check out Stone of Fire for free on any of the online bookstores, you will then be prompted to get Day of the Vikings for free if you sign up to my email list . Stone of Fire is also the first in the 11 book ARKANE series, so you might go on and read the others if you enjoyed the first. That’s about the extent of it, and fiction authors rarely have more premium products to offer.

ARKANE thrillers

But non-fiction authors can design a much more lucrative funnel to back-end products, which are separate to the book.

For example, our communication consultant author has a lot of potential for up-sell as she is aiming at the corporate market. She could have the following:

  • Non-fiction book – priced $6.99 – $9.99 as a way for people to discover her work and build her credibility (this is a niche where people expect to pay more for books)
  • The book offers people a specific audio and video download if they sign up on her email list
  • This email list then offers a series of video tutorials that lead into a premium course , which she sells for $499
  • She offers 1:1 corporate consulting at $1000 per session based on the expertise in her book
  • She offers one day seminars on site to corporates at $20,000 per day

This is a pretty typical funnel for a non-fiction author aimed at the corporate market, but many authors aren’t selling at this level. So let’s take our gluten free cook. She could have:

  • Non-fiction book – 101 delicious gluten free, vegan, easy and fast recipes for the busy woman who wants to lose weight – priced $2.99 – $6.99
  • The book offers extra recipes and a shopping list with favorite brands and maybe a video download if they sign up on her email list for free
  • This email list then offers a series of video tutorials that lead into a premium cookery course, which she sells for $99. The email list also contains recipes that utilize kitchen equipment that she can link affiliate codes to and make commission on.
  • Or perhaps she offers a membership site , where the customer pays $9.99 a month for access to new recipes and tips and a community where she can get support around this type of life change. Communities with support are really popular and can be lucrative, but they do take a lot of work to manage

Of course, if you want to become an authority in your niche, you can also focus on writing multiple books under the same sub-category , providing a similar funnel to the fiction author model. This is most likely what our military history author would do, and it's what I do.

If these types of business models interest you, check out How to Make a Living with Your Writing , which goes into more detail on how you can build this type of business yourself.

Books for Authors Feb 2021

(7) Get a professional book cover designed

You could do this step as soon as you decide on your book title, and it’s definitely worth doing early so you can use it as marketing collateral on your website.

For non-fiction book covers:

  • Look at the top 100 books in your sub-category and take screen prints of the ones that you like and resonate with. The trend right now for non-fiction, certainly in the business niche, is to have very clear text and one dominant image. You can give these screen prints to your designer as a guide for the type of cover you’re looking for.
  • Remember that many readers shop on devices and see the cover at thumbnail size , so there is little point putting quotes in small text on ebook covers. You can always add it onto your print version at the publishing stage, but remember to optimize for browsing at a small image size.
  • Research book cover designers and check out their portfolios to see if they work in your genre. Here’s my own curated list of designers , although of course, there are many more.

list of book cover designers

  • Get feedback from your target market . I go back and forth on this as sometimes the feedback can just be confusing! But if you use a design service like 99Designs, then you will get multiple designs and can do a poll to your email list and social media followers. You can also use a service like Pickfu , where you can get opinions from people outside of your network.
  • Finally, don’t design your cover yourself unless you are a designer already . A pro book cover will make a HUGE difference to the way your book is perceived.

When you get the book cover files, get a 3D image as well as a flat one, as you will use these in a lot of different marketing materials going forward.

(8) Go through the editing process

A first draft is just that. You now have to go through the process of turning that draft into a professional finished product.

Here’s an overview of my own editing process:

  • Self-editing. I work in Scrivener and once my whole project has yellow flags, my first draft is done and I print the whole book. I do my first self-editing pass on paper, old-school style! I scribble all over it and make notes where I need to write more and restructure the book, often rearranging chapters. Scrivener makes this very easy as you just drag and drop to rearrange chapters. [If you need help with learning how to use Scrivener effectively, check out the Learn Scrivener Fast course , which is excellent.]
  • Rewrites and more self-editing . Once I’ve been through the whole book on paper, I make all the changes back into Scrivener and often print and go through the same process again until I am happy with the book.
  • Beta readers. These are readers in your target market who read the book and offer comments on the content. For my book, Career Change , I gave an early copy to people working in my department in the day job who I knew were dissatisfied with what they were doing. They came back with questions and suggestions for what to include as additional material. After feedback from beta readers, you may do further rewrites to incorporate any changes you agree with.

editing a novel

  • After I have made all the changes, I send the book to a proofreader who does the final read before publication . This is to avoid the inevitable typos that occur in rewriting. Of course, some will always slip through but I like having this final check in the process.

You can find my own curated list of editors and proof-readers here , as well as more articles on the editing process.

List of editors and proofreaders

Congratulations! You now have a finished non-fiction book.

Need more help.

If you'd like some more help on your author journey, check out:

  • My  Books for Authors , including  How to Write Non-Fiction, Successful Self-Publishing, How to Market a Book, and more
  • My  Courses for Authors , including How to Write Non-Fiction, and How to Write a Novel
  • The Creative Penn Podcast , interviews, inspiration and information on writing, publishing, book marketing and making money with your writing every Monday
  • My videos at  YouTube.com/thecreativepenn

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How to Structure Your Non-Fiction Book

Zara Altair

Zara Altair

conference opportunity

You probably have knowledge and experience that the world wants to hear about. Why not join the financially rewarding path of non-fiction book publishing?

Self-help literature, in particular, can offer a consistent stream of income for writers. Plus, a non-fiction book can lead to other income opportunities like motivational speaking, coaching, and consulting work.

Excellent non-fiction guides are equal parts knowledge, inspiration, and entertainment.

You are probably eager to get writing, but organizing and structuring your book first will help you create a readable book that will inspire others and bring you success. You need a structure to make sure readers get your message.

Here’s how to organize your knowledge to make it accessible, informative, and entertaining to your readers.

Your Book’s Promise

The 7 structural steps, writing your book, plan your way to success.

Before you start writing, decide on the focus of your book. What will your reader gain from reading your book? That’s your promise to the reader, the reason they will buy and read your book.

If your book is about parenting, is it for single or married parents? Male or female? Brainstorm ideas for what you promise your reader and who that reader is.

What results will the reader have after reading? Drill down to specifics. Is your book for single dads? Busy moms with several children?

Your promise determines the structure of your book. Once you isolate your promise to the reader, you can build the parts of your book. Each part leads your reader to the solution you promise.

Order your book parts so they lead your reader from the idea behind your information to the steps to lead them through achieving their goal – your promise.

1. Table of Contents

The table of contents is like an outline for your reader. No matter how much you strive to make your book flow from one point to another, not everyone will read the entire book, nor will they read what you’ve written in order.

Creating a table of contents gives your reader a sense of the book’s logic and makes every chapter accessible on its own.

In a paperback, your table of contents allows your reader to flick to the chapter they want to read next. In an eBook, you can make each heading clickable so that readers can navigate easily between chapters.

Having a strong table of contents which tells readers exactly what they’ll find in each chapter turns your book into a resource that they can use time and time again.

2. Introduction

Your introduction is a high-level view of the book. Introduce your topic and address the reader’s motive. Normally, the reader has a particular problem they want to fix or an opportunity they want to explore.

The introduction isn’t necessarily about you, it’s about your reader. Address their issue first and then introduce yourself and explain why you are uniquely qualified to help the reader.

Once you’ve assured the reader you can answer their question or help them gain a new skill, round off with an overview of what they will learn in the coming pages.

Depending on your topic promise and your style, the introduction can range in length from one page to 30 pages. The length doesn’t matter. Take only as long as you need to give your high-level view.

3. Glossary

A glossary of terms is optional, but will always be helpful if your book is teaching a skill or discipline like medicine, economics, or publishing. You may understand the terms and acronyms of your field, but your reader may not.

List each term with a short, single-paragraph definition or explanation. Your glossary will be of particular help to a general reader who is entering your area of expertise.

conference opportunity

4. Outcome Benefits

Energize your reader by showing them what they will achieve. Use a success story example of what will happen if they implement your lessons.

A well-behaved dog, a successful cross-country ski trek, doubled income – paint a picture in their mind of what they can do and how they will feel after reading your book.

Your words will inspire your reader to keep reading by adding texture and clarity to their outcome. They will want to put your lessons into action to create their own success story. Success stories lead to better reviews on your book and more opportunities for you.

5. Mindset Principles

Explain the attitude and motivation your reader will need to reach success. Readers who don’t master the right mindset will probably fail at the lessons that follow.

They may not know to tackle the hardest thing first, or how to achieve the awareness and mindfulness needed to make decisions.

To absorb your practical lessons, your reader needs to understand how attitude affects outcome. Understanding mindset principles is key to working through self-help books on any subject.

6. The Body of Your Non-Fiction

Once you’ve led your reader through the logic, the dream of accomplishment, and the mental attitude necessary for success, walk them through the steps and practical tips they need to find the solution that motivated them to buy your book.

Be specific, outlining exact strategies they can take action on immediately. While you want to start chapters at a high level, sub-chapters should be full of granular advice and case studies showing how to use your advice in specific situations.

Don't include too much. Inform rather than overwhelm. Readers won't feel cheated by a shorter book so long as it teaches them what they want to know. Some of history’s most successful self-help guides are under 200 pages. Napoleon Hill’s classic Think and Grow Rich is a little over 200 pages.

On the other hand, don’t withhold vital information. Don’t save your best tips for something else. Readers want to be able to solve their problem now, not pay for a marketing pitch for a more expensive solution later.

The best self-help books tend to order the meat of their content in one of two different structures:

  • Content grouped into themes
  • Content structured in order of difficulty, from the fundamentals for newbies to advanced strategies for seasoned enthusiasts

Your content should always be logical and easy to navigate with clear steps that guide the readers to the information that they want. Beyond this, your structure should depend entirely on what will work best for your book.

Let’s work through some examples.

If your book is a memoir, you’ll want to make a point about what your life experiences have taught you. Your promise to your reader is to impart the conclusions you reached, and to tell them how they can benefit from your new understanding and philosophy of life.

Memoirs work best by grouping the content into themes. Select highlights from your life that illustrate your themes well. Readers don’t want to read your entire life story, only the bits that will help them.

If you’re focussing on a practical task, like learning a new skill, or are writing to address a specific set of problems, structure your chapters by the order of challenges. Start with beginner practices and build on each lesson.

cross-country skier at mountain top

7. Give Your Book Context

Readers who have read your book and liked your information will want more.

Once you’ve taught the reader all the information they wanted to learn when they picked up your book, set your lessons within a wider context. Follow up with suggestions for next steps and resources to expand their knowledge and build on their success.

For example, a book on growing a successful Instagram following can help people achieve growth, but your readers will want to know what to do next.

For example, they can leverage that following to solidify their place as an influencer on other platforms, or look into speaking gigs to grow their audience beyond the online sphere.

Give your reader ways to contact you, like joining your mailing list for more tips. This is your opportunity to guide readers into your sales funnel for courses or coaching, retreats, or adventures.

As eager as you are to share your expertise, you’ll find that planning the structure will help you write faster. This may feel like you’re slowing the whole process down but, with a solid structure, you’ll know what to include in each section of your book.

With your outline as your guide, you’ll find you write faster. You won’t have to stop and think about what comes next.

How to Follow the 7 Step Structure

Fill out notes for each of the seven sections. Where you’ll start, what your reader will learn, and any action steps for your reader.

When you get to the body of your book, organize the chapters by theme or progressive steps. Make notes about the content of each chapter. Again, where you’ll start, what your reader learns, and action steps.

Your writing needs to be as clear and easy to follow as possible in a non-fiction book. When you already know all of the steps and processes you are writing about, it can be difficult to see when you need to make something clearer or explain it in a new way.

Get someone else to read over each chapter of your book to check that they understand your process. This will help you see where your book might be confusing or require further consideration.

Writing Style

It might seem counter-intuitive, but one of the best ways to prove yourself as an expert in your field and a valuable source of information is to make your writing as simple as possible.

Jargon and long complex sentences might make you feel advanced, but they’ll make your work more challenging for your reader to understand and engage with.

Rather than aiming for the most impressive sentences possible, you should aim to for easy readability. To give you a head start, why not use ProWritingAid?

Readability scores tell you how easy it is for someone to read your work. The ProWritingAid Readability Report looks at factors like sentence length, syllable density, and word familiarity to tell you what groups of readers will be able to access your text.


The higher the readability score, the more advanced your text is and the harder it is to comprehend. Why not run a chapter of your non-fiction book through ProWritingAid to see how you score?

If you follow this structure when you write, your notes will guide you through writing each section to lead your reader to their personal success.

Your reader’s success is your success, so plan well.

Are you prepared to write your novel? Download this free book now:

The Novel-Writing Training Plan

The Novel-Writing Training Plan

So you are ready to write your novel. excellent. but are you prepared the last thing you want when you sit down to write your first draft is to lose momentum., this guide helps you work out your narrative arc, plan out your key plot points, flesh out your characters, and begin to build your world..

how to write a book non fiction

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Check every email, essay, or story for grammar mistakes. Fix them before you press send.

Zara Altair writes traditional mysteries set in ancient Italy under Ostrogoths rule in The Argolicus Mysteries. She teaches mystery screenwriters and novelists at Write A Killer Mystery. She creates semantic web content for a select clientele.

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Book Marketing for Self-Publishing Authors

Home / Guides / Book Publishing / How to Write a Nonfiction Book in 2023: The Ultimate Guide for Authors

How to Write a Nonfiction Book in 2023: The Ultimate Guide for Authors

  • Part 1: Your Book Idea
  • Part 2: Outline the Book
  • Part 3: Write the Book
  • Part 4: Edit the Book
  • Part 5: Format Your Nonfiction Book
  • Part 6: Publish & Market Your Book

If you want to be a nonfiction author, I’ve got the perfect guide for you. 

I've assembled this ultimate guide will walk you through the entire process of creating your nonfiction book, from the initial idea to the final publication.

  • How to ensure your idea will sell
  • How to outline and write your nonfiction book
  • How to polish your book to make it perfect
  • How to publish and market your book for maximum success

Some of my links in this article may give me a small commission if you use them to purchase products. There’s NO extra cost to you, and it helps me continue to write handy articles like this one.

The first step is to come up with your idea, and validate it to make sure it is something that will sell.

Determine What Problem Your Nonfiction Book Solves

When it comes to nonfiction writing, it's common for beginning ideas to be a bit vague. It's easy to have a general concept in mind, but to truly make your book a success, you need to do market research to ensure there's an audience for your work. 

This research will help you narrow down your focus and identify the specific problem your book will solve.

In most cases, nonfiction books are written to solve a specific problem . Whether it's a how-to guide on a particular topic, or a self-help book addressing a certain issue, these types of books are meant to provide readers with valuable information that can help them in some way. 

Side note: there are some genres, such as history books, creative nonfiction, or memoirs, that don't quite fit into this mold. But even in these cases, it's still important to understand why people want to read it.

When doing market research, it's important to answer the five W's of your book: the who , what , where , when , and why . 

By answering these questions, you'll be able to identify your niche and craft a book that truly resonates with readers.

Validate Your Book Idea

Before you completely narrow down your story or topic, you need to know if it's a good idea or not. To do this, you need to run through four steps:

  • Step 1: Learn if and how many people search for your book idea
  • Step 2: Learn if the idea is profitable during the book topic validation process
  • Step 3: Discover how hard the competition is for your book
  • Step 4: Rinse and repeat

If you find your book topic is not profitable, you can still write it. But if that's the case, you will have to resort to different marketing tactics. You will need to focus on finding the right market somewhere other than Amazon, and getting them interested in reading your book.

Read more in our article on book idea validation .

Determine Your Audience

When it comes to market research for your book, the most important part is understanding your audience. Without a clear understanding of who you're writing for, it will be difficult to create a book that truly resonates with readers. Counterintuitively, you want to narrow down your audience as much as possible. 

One of the best ways to narrow down your audience is by creating a customer avatar. This is a single person that represents your ideal reader. 

The more specific you can make this person, the better. 

It's important to think about things like their gender, age, background, education level, family situation, and even how much money they make. 

The more specific you can get, the more you'll understand about the kinds of problems they're facing, and how your book can help them.

Having a customer avatar in mind can help you make important decisions about your book, such as what types of information to include, what tone to use, and even what types of marketing to do. 

It also helps to think of your customer avatar when you are writing as well so you are writing with a specific person in mind and that will help you to keep your writing more focused. 

Outlining is the next part, and is particularly important for nonfiction books.

You want to make sure you are covering all the subjects thoroughly in your nonfiction book outline, and nothing is lost in translation. Here are some ideas to help.

Brainstorm Ideas

Once you have a clear understanding of your target audience and the problem your book will solve, it's time to start brainstorming ideas. If you already know what your book is about, this is the time to think about how to structure your book and what to include in it. 

If you're still not sure what your book is about, this is the time to explore different possibilities.

When brainstorming ideas, it's important not to hold back. Write down everything that comes to mind, even if it doesn't seem like a good fit at first. 

To help generate ideas, try brainstorming with a group of people, whether it's friends, family or other nonfiction writers. They may have insights you haven’t considered and the exchange of thoughts can be very productive. Also, you could explore other books in your niche and look for inspiration, or research the latest trends and best practices in your niche.

Ultimately, don't be afraid to experiment and try out different things. Brainstorming is a creative process and the more ideas you have to work with, the better your final book will be.

After brainstorming ideas, it's time to dive into research. Research is the best way to truly understand what your book should talk about.

If you find that no one has written about your topic before, it might be a sign that the topic may not be as helpful as you think. So, it's important to be open to the possibility of changing the topic or pivoting in a different direction.

The research process should involve looking through a variety of sources such as books written by others, online articles, podcasts and YouTube videos, interviews, and anything else that may be relevant to your topic. This will give you a good idea of what to cover, but also what gaps in knowledge still exist.

As you research, make sure to gather all unique pieces of data into your notes. Organize the information by topic or subtopic, and make sure to include the source of each piece of information. This will be useful later when you're writing your book and need to cite your sources or refer back to specific information.

Research is a crucial step in the book-writing process, and the more time you spend doing it, the more valuable your book will be. 

It will help you to understand your topic more deeply and help you to better serve your readers. Remember, research is not just to back your claims but to improve the credibility of your book.

Use Nonfiction Story Structures

I often talk about story structure when it comes to fiction, but nonfiction books can benefit from using story structures as well. There are many different types of nonfiction story structures you can use, but here are a few examples to get you started.

  • Manipulating Time: With this structure, your story starts in the middle, and shows how you got there in flashback-type sequences. This is great if you're using your own story or something from one of your clients. It allows you to show how your protagonist got to where they are, using the principles you outlined in the book.
  • Hook, Story, Offer: This is a great framework from Russell Brunson that I like to use. It consists of three different steps: Hook, which is the thing that gets your readers interested; Story, which is the thing that connects your readers with the emotional truths you're trying to convey; and Offer, where you present the solution to the problem you outlined in your story.
  • Circular Structure: Similar to manipulating time, this structure starts at the end, and shows how you got there.
  • Parallel Structure: With this structure, you might have two or more stories that you are weaving together. They might seem separate at first, but you tie them together by the end. This is a great way of interweaving your personal story with the principles in your nonfiction book.

Using nonfiction story structures can be a great way to engage your readers and make your book more compelling. By using one of these structures, you can help your readers understand and connect with the information you're presenting in a more meaningful way.

Put it All Together

Once you have your structure in place and your notes organized, it's time to weave it all together into something coherent. 

This can be a challenging step, as you'll need to take all the information you've gathered and figure out how to present it in a logical and easy-to-understand way. 

It's important to be selective with the information you include, as you'll likely have more than you can include in your book. This means that some things may need to be left out, as hard as that may be.

Once you have that all fleshed out and ready to go, it’s time to move on to the next step…

Writing a book is the single most important step on this list, and often the hardest. So I’ve assembled a few tips to get you started.

Determine the Best Writing Software

Choose the best book writing software for individual project, consider software like Atticus, Scrivener, Ulysses and Microsoft word or Google Docs.

Atticus is the best book writing software for overall capability, including tracking software and formatting. It costs $147 as a one-time fee and works on multiple platforms. 

Plus, it is optimized for nonfiction, with certain features that make the nonfiction process SOOOOO much easier, including:

  • Endnote and Footnotes (the only budget-friendly tool to do the latter)
  • H2 – H6 Headers
  • Callout boxes
  • Hanging indents

It is my #1 recommendation for authors who want to write and format books of any kind!

Scrivener is the next best option for organization and customization, but it has a steep learning curve and costs $49 (one-time) for Mac or Windows. $19.99 for iOS devices and reduced pricing of $41.65 is available for “students & academics”.

Use Kindlepreneur’s unique discount code (KINDLEPRENEUR) to get 20% OFF your purchase.

  • Download Scrivener 3 for Mac
  • Download Scrivener 1 for Windows , which is on par with Scrivener 2 for Mac (update coming in 2021)
  • Download Scrivener 1 for iOS , which is also on par with Scrivener 2 on Mac (a handy tool for on-the-go writing with an iPad or iPhone )

Ulysses is a customizable and sleek book writing software that syncs automatically and has a drag-and-drop functionality, but only works on Apple products and costs $5.99/month or $49.99/year, but with a free 2-week trial. 

Microsoft Word

Microsoft Word is industry standard for word processing, but not ideal for novel writing, often used because of its ubiquity, but it is cumbersome for writing a book, and costs $139.99 as a one-time purchase or $6.99/month for a Microsoft 365 subscription.

Write the Book Fast

When it comes to nonfiction and fiction alike, I firmly believe that getting the book out as fast as possible is the best way to go. Writing fast allows you to get the first draft on the table and start the editing process. 

Important: The goal at this stage is not to create a perfect product, but simply to get the words down so you can work with them later.

One of the main advantages of writing quickly is that it helps to overcome writer's block and other forms of procrastination. When you're not focusing on making everything perfect, it's easier to simply get words down on the page. 

It's also useful to remember that the first draft is not meant to be perfect, it's meant to be a starting point, it's where you will put down the ideas that you want to explore further, and decide which direction you want to take.

Some quick tips to write fast include

  • Set good goals
  • Work in manageable chunks
  • Develop writing habits
  • Right at the same time everyday
  • Use a timer
  • Try dictation

I have a whole list of other ways to write faster in this article.

Use Storytelling

Storytelling is often seen as something that is only relevant to fiction writing, but it's equally important in nonfiction. Stories allow you to draw readers in and make them emotionally connected with your subject matter.

There are many ways to incorporate stories into your nonfiction book. You can mine stories from your own life, the lives of your clients, history, or even current events. 

The key is to find stories that are relevant to the topic of your book and that will help to illustrate the points you're trying to make.

Keep the Writing Simple

For nonfiction, it's important to keep the language simple and easy to understand. Unless you are speaking to a highly educated audience, this will almost always be the case. 

This is because nonfiction books often have the goal of conveying information to a wide audience, which means that the language must be accessible to a general reader.

Using simple and easy-to-understand language not only makes your book more accessible to a wider audience, but it also makes it more likely that your readers will retain the information you're trying to convey. 

Avoid using jargon and technical terms that might not be familiar to your general audience. Instead, explain them in simple terms or provide definitions. 

The more complex your topic, the more you want to be able to explain that topic in simple terms.

Editing the book is when you take that rough product and polish it. It’s an important step that should be done with care.

Self-edit the Book

Let's be honest, self-editing is not everyone's favorite part of the writing process. However, it is an important step that should not be overlooked. Before you send your work to beta readers or an editor, it's a good idea to have at least one self-edit. 

This will give you an opportunity to catch any errors and make sure your ideas flow well, your arguments are tight and the book feels coherent.

The key is to approach self-editing with an open mind and a critical eye. Take the time to read through your work carefully and consider whether each sentence and paragraph adds value to the book. Look for ways to tighten up the writing, eliminate redundancy and make sure that the book is clear and easy to understand. 

Fact Check Everything

In today's age of misinformation, fact checking is more important than ever. It's crucial that the information in your nonfiction book is accurate and reliable, otherwise it risks losing credibility with your readers. 

The good news is that if you did your research well, and documented everything, this step will be greatly simplified. You should have sources and citations to back up every claim you make in your book. 

By double-checking these sources and making sure that the information is still accurate, you'll ensure that your book is reliable and trustworthy.

Send to Editors

After you've given your manuscript a thorough self-edit, it's time to send it to an editor . An editor is one of your most important resources when it comes to producing a polished and professional book. 

They can provide valuable feedback and make suggestions that will help to improve the overall quality of your manuscript.

It's important to keep in mind that editing can be one of the more expensive parts of the book writing process. However, investing in an editor's expertise is well worth the effort. 

An editor can help you to turn your manuscript into a polished and professional book that will stand out among the competition.

Send to Beta Readers

Once you have a decent product, it's time to send it out to beta readers. Beta readers are a valuable resource that can help you to identify problems you might not have thought of. 

Beta readers can also help you to understand if the stories you used in your manuscript worked and if any of them were confusing. They will give you an idea of how the general audience might receive your work. They can point out if certain parts of the manuscript are too complex or if certain sections don't flow well.

This feedback is essential to help you to make necessary adjustments before your book is ready for publication.

The penultimate step is to format your nonfiction book so it looks good. I've got one specific tool to help with this…

The best way to format your nonfiction book is using Atticus, the best formatting tool for nonfiction, given that it has multiple nonfiction-specific features that other formatting tools don't have.

Plus, it's way cheaper and easier to use than any of the other formatting tools out there.

For example, here are some of the nonfiction-specific features that you might want to use:


While most formatting tools have only one size of heading, Atticus has the ability to create multiple levels of headings, meaning you can have main headings, then subheadings underneath those headings, etc. Here's what that looks like:

Additionally, you can customize the size and style of each heading type, which actually means that fiction authors can make use of the headings as well.

By selecting a specific style font, you could create the illusion of a hand-written note or a text that you could use insert into your text. So headings are not just for nonfiction authors!

Here's the what the heading formatting looks like in Atticus:


Until Atticus came along, there wasn't any affordable and easy to use program that provided footnotes in books. But Atticus can!

With Atticus, you can easily add footnotes that will appear at the bottom of each page in your print edition (note: ebook editions, by necessity, default to endnotes).

In addition to footnotes, Atticus also lets you select endnotes, and let's you specify whether you want your endnotes to appear at the end of the book, or the end of each chapter.

Hanging Indents

Hanging indents are an essential piece of formatting for authors who have a lot of references. A hanging indent is used when you need to list your sources and create a bibliography.

In other words, this is an essential piece of the puzzle for any nonfiction author who needs to list their sources.

Callout Boxes

Last but not least, Atticus has Callout Boxes!

These are honestly some of my favorites.

Atticus lets you add a callout box to any selection of text, and it will show up with that callout box in ebook or in print.

You can completely customize the look of your callout boxes, as seen here:

And then, once you've got something like that, you can preview it in Atticus' device previewer, where it might look a little something like this:

Part 6: Publish & Market Your Book

Writing the book is just part of the process. With any book, but especially with nonfiction books, publishing and marketing is crucial.

Research Your Title and Subtitle

When it comes to writing a nonfiction book, finding the right title and subtitle is crucial. This is because a well-crafted title and subtitle can help to attract readers and increase the visibility of your book.

One effective way to determine your title and subtitle is by doing keyword research.

Keyword research can be done by extensively crawling through Amazon's listings. This can help you to understand what people are searching for, and what kind of titles and subtitles are most effective. 

Pro Tip: The key is to figure out what people are searching for, and use this information to choose a title and subtitle that will resonate with your target audience.

Unfortunately, manual searches can be tedious when done manually. However, there's a tool out there called Publisher Rocket that will automate this process and make it faster and easier. 

This tool can help you to analyze your competition, uncover the best keywords, and optimize your title and subtitle for maximum visibility.

Publish Your Nonfiction Book

After all the hard work of researching, writing, editing and fact-checking, it's finally time to publish your book. It can be a daunting process, but with the right guidance, it can be done seamlessly. 

If you're planning to publish your book on Amazon, I have an article that can be extremely helpful. 

It provides an in-depth guide on how to publish your book on Amazon, detailing the different options and services available, and how to use them.

Market Your Book to Your Audience

When you publish your book, make sure you  format your book correctly , nail your  back cover blurb , have a  stellar book cover  (traditional publishers will usually pay for this), and properly organize the  front matter and back matter . Hopefully, you know that you have to start marketing your book long before it hits shelves and the online marketplace. Here are some articles you can read to learn more about book marketing:

  • Book Marketing 101
  • Kindle Keywords for Self-Publishers
  • Ultimate List of the Best Book Review Blogs
  • How to Use Surveys to Sell More Books
  • Best Email Services for Authors
  • How to Sell Your Books in an Indie Bookstore

Jason Hamilton

Related posts, black friday deals for writers 2023, launching a book: the ultimate step by step guide, how to publish a book on amazon: the full step-by-step guide, sell more books on amazon, amazon kindle rankings e-book.

Learn how to rank your Kindle book #1 on Amazon with our collection of time-tested tips and tricks.

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How To Write A Nonfiction Book: 21 Steps for Beginners

POSTED ON Oct 14, 2020

Scott Allan

Written by Scott Allan

The steps on how to write a nonfiction book are easy to follow, but can be difficult to execute if you don't have a clear plan.

Many first time authors experience information overload when it comes to writing a nonfiction book. Where do I start? How do I build authority? What chapters do I need to include? Do I know enough about this topic?

If you're mind is racing with questions about how to get started with your book, then you’ve landed in the right place!

Writing a book can be a grueling, lengthy process. But with a strategic system in place, you could become a nonfiction book author within three to four months.

However, you need an extremely high level of motivation and dedication, as well as a clear, proven system to follow.

In this article, we’ll cover all there is to know about the nonfiction book writing process.

How to write a nonfiction book

Writing a nonfiction book is one of the most challenging paths you will ever take. But it can also be one of the most rewarding accomplishments of your life.

Before we get started with the steps to write a nonfiction book, let's review some foundational questions that many aspiring authors have.

What is a nonfiction book?

A nonfiction book is based on facts, such as real events, people, and places. It is a broad category, and includes topics such as biography, memoir, business, health, religion, self-help, science, cooking, and more.

A nonfiction book differs from a fiction book in the sense that it is real, not imaginary.

The purpose of nonfiction books is commonly to educate or inform the reader, whereas the purpose of fiction books is typically to entertain.

Perennial nonfiction books are titles such as How to Win Friends and Influence People from Dale Carnegie, A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking, and Anne Frank's The Diary of a Young Girl .

Perennial Nonfiction Books

What is the author’s purpose in a work of nonfiction?

In a nonfiction book, the author’s main purpose or reason for writing on the topic is to inform or educate readers about a certain topic.

While there are some nonfiction books that also entertain readers, the most common author's purpose in a work of nonfiction is to raise awareness about a certain topic, event, or concept.

Nonfiction Authors Purpose

How many words are in a nonfiction book?

Because nonfiction is such a broad category, it really depends on the type of nonfiction you are writing, but generally a nonfiction book should be about 40,000 words.

To determine how many words in a novel , narrow down your topic and do some research to see what the average word count is.

Use this Word & Page Count Calculator to calculate how many words you should aim for, based on your genre and audience.

How long does it take to write a nonfiction book?

It can take anywhere from three months to several years to write a nonfiction book, depending on the author's speed, research process, book length, and other variables.

On average, it can take a self-published author typically six months to one year to write their nonfiction book. However, that means the author is setting time aside daily to work on their book, staying focused, and motivated.

Other nonfiction authors, especially those with heavy research an in–depth analysis can take much longer. How long it takes to write a nonfiction book really just depends on several factors.

Benefits of writing a nonfiction book

Making a decision to write a book could change your life. Just think about all the ways you could leverage your expertise!

If you’re interested in how to write a book , it’s important to understand all the things writing the book can do for you, so that you can stay motivated throughout the process.

Writing Nonfiction Books Benefits

Some rewarding results that can come after you write a nonfiction book are:

  • Exponentially accelerate the growth of your business
  • Generate a stream of passive income for years to come
  • Build authority in your field of expertise
  • Increase exposure in the media
  • Become a motivational speaker
  • …and so much more (this is just the beginning)!

Imagine for a moment …walking into your local bookstore and seeing your book placed at the front of the store in the new releases section. Or browsing on Amazon KDP , the world’s largest online bookstore, and seeing your nonfiction book listed as a bestseller alongside well-known authors.

It can happen in as little as three months if you are fully committed and ready to start today.

YouTube video

How to Write a Nonfiction Book in 21 Steps

You're clear on the type of nonfiction book you want to write, and you're ready to get started.

Before you start writing, it's time to lay the groundwork and get clear on the entire process. This will help you manage your book writing expectations, and prepare for the nonfiction book writing journey that lies ahead.

With those foundational questions out of the way, let’s move on to 21-step checklist so you can start learning exactly how to write a nonfiction book.

#1— Develop the mindset to learn how to write a nonfiction book

The first step in how to become an author is to develop a rock solid author mindset. Without a writer’s mindset, you are going to struggle to get anywhere with your book. Writing has more to do with your attitude towards the craft than the skill required to get you there.

If writing words down and tying sentences together to craft a story is the skill, your mindset is the foundation that keeps this motivation moving forward.

Identifying yourself as a writer from the start (even if you haven't published yet) will form the mindset needed to continue working on your book .

To succeed, you must toughen up so that nothing gets in your way of writing.

This is also known as imposter syndrome : A psychological pattern where a person doubts their accomplishments and has an ongoing internalized fear of being exposed as a fraud.

Here’s how to prevent imposter syndrome as an aspiring author:

  • Define what it means to be an author or writer. Is this someone who wakes up at 5am and writes 1000 words a day?
  • Tell yourself you’re a writer. Just do it. It feels strange at first but you will begin to believe your own self-talk.
  • Talk about your book idea . That’s right – start telling people you are writing a book. Many writers working on a book will keep it a secret until published. Even then, they might not about it.
  • Take action to build author confidence. Imposter syndrome paralyzes you. Focus on increasing your author confidence and getting rid of doubt. This can be done by committing to writing every day. Just 500 words is enough. Build that writing habits early and you’ll be walking and talking like a true author.

#2 – Create a Book Writing Plan

Excuses will kill your chances of becoming a published author. There are no good reasons for not writing a book, only good excuses you convince yourself are real.

You are trying to protect yourself from embarrassment, only to create a new kind of shame: the shame of not finishing the book you have been talking about for years.

Some of the most common excuses that hold writers back are: There is no time to write in my life right now. I can't get past my distractions. I can never be as good as my favorite famous author. My book has to perfect.

Excuses are easy to dish out. But identifying them for what they are (excuses), is the first step towards taking action and changing your limiting mindset.

Excuses, while they may seem valid, are walls of fear. Banish your excuses right now and commit to writing your book.

Here's how to overcome the excuses that prevent you from writing:

  • Make the time to write. Set up a thirty-minute time block every day. Commit to writing during this time.
  • Turn off your distractions. Get rid of the WiFi for an hour. Close the door. It is just you and the story.
  • Be aware of comparisons to other writers. They worked hard to get where they are, and you will get there, too.
  • Give yourself permission to write badly. It won’t be perfect, but a book that is half-finished can’t be published.

#3 – Identify your WHY

Start with this question: “Why am I doing this?”

Know your why . This is critical to moving ahead with your book idea. We usually have an intrinsic and extrinsic reason for wanting to learn how to write a nonfiction book.

Intrinsic Why: What is your #1 reason for wanting to write this book? Is it a bucket list goal you must achieve? Is it to help people overcome a root issue in their lives? Do you want to create a movement and generate social impact?

Extrinsic Why: Do you want to create a business from your book? Have passive income coming in for many years later? Become a full-time author and work from home? Grow your network? Build an online presence?

Getting super clear on why you want to write a bestselling book is the momentum to propel you forward and deliver your story. Enlisting the help of a book writing coach (like we offer here at SelfPublishing!) can also help you stay close to your why. This person will be your sounding board, motivation, and voice of reason during the writing process – providing much-needed support from someone who's published multiple books before.

#4 – Research nonfiction book topics

Whether you have a clear idea of what you want to write about or if you are still exploring possible topic ideas, it's important to do a bit of market research.

Nonfiction Book Research

Researching the current news and case studies related to your potential topic are powerful ways to add credibility to your nonfiction book, and will help you develop your own ideas.

This adds greater depth to your nonfiction book, builds better trust with readers, and delivers content that exceeds customer expectations.

If you need help narrowing down your book idea, try experimenting with some writing prompts based on the genre you're interested in!

Here's how to write a nonfiction book that's well-researched:

  • Use case studies. Pull case studies and make reference to the research. If there are not any case studies related to your topic, explore the idea of creating your own case study.
  • Read books related to your topic. Mention good books or articles to support your material.
  • Research facts from reliable sources. Post proven facts and figures from reliable sources such as scholarly journals, academic papers, white papers, newspapers, and more.

#5 – Select a nonfiction book topic

What are you writing about? It starts with having a deep interest and passion for the area you are focused on.

Common topics to write a nonfiction book on are:

  • Business and Money
  • Health, dieting and exercise
  • Religion and Spirituality
  • Home repair
  • Innovation and entrepreneurship

You probably already know this so it should be easy. Make a note of the area you are writing your book on. And then…

#6 — Drill down into your book idea

Everyone starts at the same place. It begins with an idea for the book.

What is the core idea for your book? If your nonfiction book topic is on health and dieting, your idea might be a book on “How to lose 7 pounds in your first month.”

Your book is going to be centered around this core idea.

You could have several ideas for the overall book but, to avoid writing a large, general book that nobody will read, make it more specific.

#7 — Schedule writing time

What gets scheduled, gets done. That’s right, you should schedule in your writing time just like any other appointment on your calendar.

Your writing routine will have a large role to play when it comes to writing and finishing your book.

Stephen King Writing Routine

Scheduling time for writing, and sticking to it, will help you knock out your writing goals with ease.

Stephen King sits down to write every morning from eight-thirty. It was his way of programming his brain to get ready for the day’s work. He writes an average of ten pages a day.

W.H. Auden would rise at six a.m. and would work hard from seven to eleven-thirty, when his mind was sharpest.

When do you feel the most productive? If you can, make time for writing at the same time every day to set the tone for your writing productivity.

YouTube video

Commit to a time of day and a length of time during which to write. Set a goal for yourself and try to hit the target every day by sticking with your routine.

#8 — Establish a writing space

You need a place to write, and you must establish that space where you can write everyday, distraction-free for several hours a day.

Your writing environment plays a critical role in your life as an author. If you write in a place that’s full of noise, uncomfortable to be in, or affects your emotional state to the point you don’t want to do anything, you might consider your environment needs some work.

Create A Writing Space

Here is how to create a writing space that inspires you to write:

Display your favorite author photos

Find at least twenty photos of authors you want to emulate. Print these out if you can and place them around your room. An alternative idea is to use the photos as screensavers or a desktop screen. You can change the photo every day if you like. There is nothing like writing and having your favorite author looking back at you as if to say, “Come on, you’ve got this!”

Hang up a yearly calendar

Your nonfiction book will get written faster if you have goals for each day and week. The best way to manage this is by scheduling your time on a calendar. Schedule every hour that you commit to your author business.

As Bob Goff said, “The battle for happiness begins on the pages of our calendars.”

Buy a big wall calendar. Have enough space on each day that you can write down your goals for that day. When you have a goal for that day or week, write it down or use a sticky note.

Create a clutter-free environment

If there is any one factor that will slow you down or kill your motivation, it is a room full of clutter.

If your room looks like a tornado swept through, it can have a serious impact on your emotional state. What you see around you also occupies space in your mind. Unfinished business is unconsciously recorded in your mind and this leads to clutter (both physical and mental).

Although you can’t always be in complete control of your physical space, you can get rid of any clutter you have control over. Go for a simple workplace that makes you feel relaxed.

Choose a writing surface and chair

Consider a standing desk, which is becoming popular for many reasons. Sitting down for long periods of time becomes uncomfortable and unhealthy. You can balance your online time between sitting and standing.

For sitting, you want a chair that is comfortable, but not too comfortable. Invest in a chair that requires you to sit up straight. If there is a comfortable back attached, as with most chairs, you have a tendency to get sleepy. This can trigger other habits as well, such as craving television.

Seek out the place where you can be at your most productive and feel confident and comfortable.

#9 — Choose a nonfiction book writing software

This is one of the most important writing tools you will choose. Your writing software needs to be efficient, easy to use and stress-free. Anything that requires a lot of formatting or a steep learning curve could end up costing you time and patience.

There are literally dozens of choices for book writing software , so it's really just a matter of finding what works best for you.

YouTube video

Here are 3 writing software for new authors to consider:

  • Microsoft Word. Before any other writing tools came along, Microsoft Word was the only option available. Today, even though there are many other word processors out there, millions of people continue to use it for their writing needs. And it’s easy to see why. It’s trusted, reliable, and gets the job done well .
  • Google Docs . It's a stripped-down version of Word that you can only use online. Some perks are that it comes with the built-in ability to share content, files, and documents with your team. You can easily communicate via comments for collaboration. If you write your book in Google Docs, you can share the link with anyone and they can edit , or make any changes right in the document itself. And all changes are trackable!
  • Scrivener . A lot of writers absolutely love this program, with its advanced features and distraction-free writing experience. Scrivener was designed for writers; it’s super easy to lay out scenes, move content around, and outline your story, article, or manuscript. If you’re serious about learning how to write a nonfiction book, then putting in the time to learn this writing tool will definitely be worth it.

There are many forms of writing software that all have advantages to using them, but once you find what works for you, stick with it.

#10 — Create your mind map

A mind map is a brain dump of all your ideas. Using your theme and core idea as a basic starting point, your mind map will help you to visually organize everything into a structure for the book.

I highly recommend using pen and paper for this. You will enjoy the creative flow of this process with a physical version of the map rather than mind mapping software. But, if you prefer using an app to create your mindmap , you can try MindMeister .

Here is how to create your mind map:

  • Start with your central idea. Write this idea in the center of the map.
  • Add branches connecting key ideas that flow out from the core idea.
  • Add keywords that tie these key ideas together.
  • Using color coded markers or sticky notes, and identify the chapters within your mindmap.
  • Take your chapter headings and…

#11 — How to write a nonfiction book outline

Now that your book topic is decided on, and you have mind mapped your ideas, it’s time to start determining how to outline a nonfiction book.

There are several ways to create a book outline , and it really boils down to author preference and style.

Here's how to write a nonfiction book outline:

  • Use this Book Outline Generator for a helpful template to follow for your own outline.
  • Map out your book's topics with a mindmap or bubble map, then organize similar concepts together into chapters.
  • Answer the 5 Ws: Who, What, When, Where, Why.
  • Use book writing software outline tools, like Scrivener's corkboard method.

YouTube video

What is a nonfiction book outline?

A book outline is a roadmap or blueprint for your story. It tells you where you need to go and when in chronological order.

Take the common themes of your chapters and, if applicable, divide your chapters into sections. This is your smooth transition from tangled mind map to organized outline.

Note that not every book needs sections; you might have chapters only. But if your chapters can be grouped into 3-6 different themes within the book, create a section for those common-themed chapters and group them together into a section.

The outline needs to be easy to follow and generally no more than a couple pages long.

The goal here is to take your mind map and consolidate your ideas into a structure that makes logical sense . This will be an incredible roadmap to follow when you are writing the book.

No outline = writing chaos.

There are two types of book outlines I will introduce here:

Option 1: Simple Nonfiction Book Outline

A simple book outline is just like it sounds; keep it basic and brief. Start with the title, then add in your major sections in the order that makes sense for your topic.

Don’t get too hung up on the perfect title at this stage of the process ; you just want to come up with a good-for-now placeholder.

Use our Nonfiction Book Title Generator for ideas.

Option 2: Chapter-by-Chapter Nonfiction Book Outline

Your chapter-by-chapter book outline is a pumped-up version of the simple book outline.

To get started, first create a complete chapter list. With each chapter listed as a heading, you’ll later add material or move chapters around as the draft takes shape.

Create a working title for each chapter. List them in a logical order. After that, you’ll fill in the key points of each chapter.

Create a mind map for each chapter to outline a nonfiction book

Now that you have a list of your chapters, take each one and, similar to what you did with your main mind map for the book, apply this same technique to each chapter.

You want to mind map 3-7 ideas to cover in each chapter. These points will become the subtopics of each chapter that functions to make up chapter structure in your nonfiction book.

It is important to not get hung up on the small details of the chapter content at this stage. Simply make a list of your potential chapters. The outline will most likely change as you write the book. You can tweak the details as you go.

#12 — Determine your point of view

The language can be less formal if you are learning how to write a self-help book or another similar nonfiction book. This is because you are teaching a topic based on your own perspective and not necessarily on something based in scientific research.

Discovering your voice and writing style is as easy as being yourself, but it’s also a tough challenge.

Books that have a more conversational tone to them are just as credible as books with more profound language. You just have to keep your intended audience in mind when deciding what kind of tone you want to have in your book.

The easiest way to do this is to simply write as you would talk, as if you were explaining your topic to someone in front of you – maybe a friend.

Your reader will love this because it will feel like you are sitting with them, having a cup of coffee, hanging out and chatting about your favorite topic.

How To Write A Nonfiction Book Infograph

#13 — Write your first chapter

As soon as you have your nonfiction book outline ready, you want to build momentum right away. The best way to start this is to dive right into your first chapter.

You can start anywhere you like. You don’t have to start writing your nonfiction book in chronological order.

Take a chapter and, if you haven’t yet done so, spend a few minutes to brainstorm the main speaking points. These points are to be your chapter subheadings.

You already have the best software for writing, you’re all set in your writing environment, now you can start writing.

But wait…feeling stuck already?

That’s okay. You might want to start off with some free flow writing. Take a blank page and just start writing down your thoughts. Don’t think about what you are writing or if it makes any sense. This technique is designed to open up your mind to the flow of writing, or stream of consciousness

Write for 10-15 minutes until you are warmed up.

Next, dive into your chapter content.

#14 — Write a nonfiction book first draft

The major step in how to write a nonfiction book is – well, to actually write the first draft!

In this step, you are going to write the first draft of your book. All of it. Notice we did not say you were going to write and edit . No, you are only writing.

Do not edit while you write, and if you can fight temptation, do not read what you’ve written until the first draft is complete.

This seems like a long stretch, to write a 30-40,000-word book without reading it over, but…it’s important to tap into your creative mind and stay there during the writing phase.

It is difficult to access both your writing brain and editing brain at the same time. By sticking with the process of “write first, edit later,” you will finish your first draft faster and feel confident moving into the self-editing phase.

To learn how to write a nonfiction book, use this format:

  • Mind map your chapter —10 minutes
  • Outline/chapter subheadings—10 minutes
  • Research [keep it light]—20 Minutes
  • Write content—90 minutes

After you're done with your rough draft (first draft) you'll move on to the second draft/rewrite of your book when you will improve the organization, add more details, and create a polished draft before sending the manuscript to the editor.

#15 — Destroy writer’s block

At some point along the writer’s journey, you are going to get stuck. It is inevitable.

It is what we call the “messy middle” and, regardless you are writing fiction or nonfiction, it happens to everyone. You were feeling super-pumped to get this book written but halfway through, it begins to feel like an insurmountable mountain that you’ll never conquer.

Writer’s block is what happens when you hit a wall and struggle to move forward.

Here is what you can do when you find yourself being pulled down that dark hole.

Talk back to the voices trying to overpower your mind. Your internal critic is empowered when you believe what you are listening to is true.

Bring in the writer who has brought you this far – the one who took the initiative to learn how to write a nonfiction book. Be the writer that embraces fear and laughs at perfectionistic tendencies. Be that person that writes something even if it doesn’t sound good. Let yourself make mistakes and give yourself permission to fail.

Use positive affirmations are therapy for removing internal criticism.

Defeat the self-doubt by not owning it. Your fears exist in your mind. The book you are writing is great, and it will be finished.

Now, go finish it…

#16 — Reach out to nonfiction book editors

Before you start your second rewrite, consider reaching out to an editor and lining someone up to professionally edit your book. Then, when you have completed your self-editing process, you can send your book to the editor as quickly as possible.

Just as producing a manuscript involves a varied skill set—writing, formatting, cover design, etc.— so does editing it.

Do not skimp on quality when it come to editing – set aside money in your budget when determining the costs to publish your book .

Getting a quality edit should be the #1 expenditure for your book. It doesn’t matter if you think you’re a fantastic writer—we all make small mistakes that are difficult to catch, even after reading through the book several times.

You can find good editors on sites such as Upwork or through recommendations from other authors.

#17— Self-edit your first draft

You completed the major step in how to write a nonfiction book: You’re rough draft is finished. Now it is time to go through your content page per page, line per line, and clean it up.

This is where is gets messy. This is the self-editing stage and is the most critical part of the book writing process.

You can print out the entire manuscript and read through it in a weekend. Arm yourself with a red pen and several highlighters. You’ll be marking up sentences and writing on the page.

Start with a verbal read through.

Yes, actually read your draft out loud to yourself; you'll be surprised how reading it verbally allows you to spot certain mistakes or areas for improvement.

A verbal read through will show you:

  • Any awkward phrasing you’ve used
  • What doesn’t make sense
  • Typos (the more mistakes you find, the less an editor will accidentally overlook)

Questions to ask as you self-edit your nonfiction book:

  • What part of the book is unclear or vague?
  • Can the “outsider” understand the point to this section without being told?
  • Is my language clear and concrete?
  • Can I add more detail or take detail out?
  • Can the reader feel my passion for writing and for the topic I am exploring?
  • What is the best part of this section and how can I make the other parts as good as the best section?
  • Do I have good transitions between chapters?

For printed out material take lots of notes and correct each page as you go. Or break it down by paragraphs and make sure the content flows and transitions well.

Take 2-3 weeks for the self editing stage. The goal isn’t to make it perfect, but to have a presentable manuscript for the editor.

If you let perfection slip in, you could be self-editing and rewriting six months from now. You want to get your best book published, but not have it take three years to get there.

And, when the self edit is finished…

#18 — Create a nonfiction title

The title and subtitle is critical to getting noticed in any physical or online bookstore, such as Amazon.

Related: Nonfiction Book Title Generator

Set aside a few hours to work on crafting your perfect title and subtitle. Keep in mind that needs to engage your potential readers to buy the book.

YouTube video

The title is by far one of the critical elements of the books’ success .

Here are the main points to consider when creating a nonfiction book title:

  • Habit Stacking
  • Example#1: Break the Cycle of Self-Defeat, Destroy Negative Emotions and Reclaim Your Personal Power
  • Example#2: How to Save More Money, Slash Your Spending, and Master Your Spending

Write down as many title ideas as you can. Then, mix and match, moving keywords around until you come up with a title that “sticks.”

Next, test your title by reaching out for feedback – this can be from anyone in your author network. Don’t have an author community to reach out to?

Consider attending some of the best writers conferences to start networking with other writers and authors!

You can also test your title on sites like PickFu .

#19 — Send your nonfiction book to the editor

In a previous step, you hired your editor. Now you are going to send your book to the editor. This process should take about 2-3 weeks. Most editors will do two revisions.

When you receive your first revision, take a few days to go through the edits with track changes turned on. Carefully consider the suggestions your editor is making.

If you don’t agree with some of the suggested edits, delete them! Your editors don’t know your nonfiction book as well as you do.

So, while expert feedback is essential to creating a polished, professional-quality book, have some faith in yourself and your writing.

Now that the editing is done, you are preparing for the final stage…

#20 — Hire a proofreader

Even with the best of editors, there are often minor errors—typos, punctuation—that get missed. This is why you should consider hiring a proofreader—not your editor—to read through the book and catch any last errors.

You don’t want these mistakes to be picked up by readers and then posted as negative reviews.

You can find proofreaders to hire in your local area, or online, such as Scribendi Proofreaders or ProofreadingServices.com

Some great proofreading apps to use are Grammarly and Hemingway Editor App .

When you are satisfied that the book is 100% error free and stands up to the best standard of quality, it is time to…

#21 — Hire a formatter

Congratulations…you’re almost there! Hiring your book formatter is one of the final stages before publishing.

Nothing can ruin a good book like bad formatting. A well-formatted book enhances your reader's experience and keeps those pages being turned.

Be sure that you have clear chapter headings and that, wherever possible, the chapter is broken up into subheadings.

You can hire good formatters at places like Archangelink , Ebook Launch , and Formatted Books .

Here are the key pages to include in your nonfiction book:

Front Matter Content

  • Copyright page
  • Free gift page with a link to the opt-in page (optional)
  • Table of contents
  • Foreword (optional)

Back Matter Content

  • Lead magnet [reminder]
  • Work with me (optional)
  • Acknowledgements (optional)
  • Upcoming books [optional]

Now, work together with your formatter and communicate clearly the vision for your book. Be certain your formatter has clear instructions and be closely involved in this process until it is finished.

You know how to write a nonfiction book!

Now that you know the entire process to write your book, it's time to move on to the next phase: publishing and launching your book!

For publishing, you have two options: traditional publishing and self publishing. If you’re completely new to the book writing scene, you may want to check out this article which goes over self publishing .

If you’re deciding between self publishing vs traditional publishing , do some research to choose the right option for you.

Once you get to the marketing phase, be sure to use the Book Profit Calculator to set realistic goals and get your book into the hands of as many readers as possible!

Take some time to celebrate your accomplishing of learning how to write a nonfiction book, then get to work on publishing and launching that book!

What questions do you still have on how to write a nonfiction book?

how to write a book non fiction

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Home » Blog » How to Write a Nonfiction Book [In 11 Steps]

How to Write a Nonfiction Book [In 11 Steps]

how to write a book non fiction


So you want to know how to write a nonfiction book, that’s great.

Knowing how to write a book and having a clear understanding of what book writing software to use are essential basics of writing your first nonfiction book.

When you turn to guides like this that teach you to handle the process, however, you will realize that it is not quite as hard as you thought. Learning how to write a nonfiction book is something you can do once you have the right information.

Learning how to write a nonfiction book provides you with the unique opportunity to share a special knowledge or experience that you have. It enables you to help others or to become an authority in your industry.

You can help people solve a problem, or you can talk about an important issue. When the intimidation wears off, and you get this done, you will realize that your decision to get your nonfiction book out there is one of the best you’ve ever made.

Following these steps will make the process easier:

  • Start with the idea
  • Identify your reason for writing
  • Narrow down the topic
  • Do your research
  • Structure your book
  • Start the first draft
  • Consider your audience
  • Expand on your main points
  • Create milestones and set goals
  • Get a professional book cover
  • Edit thoroughly

You will find as you read on that writing that book is not as daunting as it seems and it can also be a lot of fun.

Whether you are writing a nonfiction book or the first time or the tenth time, it never hurts to use a good template.

nonfiction book template

A template helps you stay on track and ensures you don’t miss anything. It makes these 11 steps even easier to work with:

How to Write a Nonfiction Book

1. the idea.

As with every new project, your initial concern would naturally be how and where to begin. No matter how clear or organized your idea seems, the beginning is often messy.

You may look at the size of the project and start to doubt your skills and abilities. The truth is that these fears are almost always unfounded.

For nonfiction writers, structuring your book can be a tough task and you get confused as to where which topics should stay.

If you follow this guide, you will level all your doubts and your book will get started in no time. What you need to do is to spend some time finding your idea, researching that idea and organizing your thoughts. The clearer your thoughts are, the better for your book.

The ideal place to begin writing your nonfiction book, therefore, is to decide what you want to talk about. What is the burning issue in your heart that you want others to know about?

If you are reading through this guide, you probably know what that is already. Figuring out what you want to talk about is the ideal place to begin your nonfiction book.

2. Determine How to Write a Nonfiction Book in a Way That Fulfils You

You need to decide what the success of your book means to you. What, specifically, would you need to achieve to feel fulfilled?

It is essential that you are satisfied.

If you do not know what you want, you can have a hollow feeling with regards to your book’s success that makes you question writing it.

  • The success of a nonfiction book is based on what it was written to accomplish.
  • For some authors, this would be merely helping someone else.
  • For others, it would be the gift of being able to share their experiences with the world as in the case of memoirs.
  • Other nonfiction books are written to win literary awards.
  • Some are written to express an obsession or a love for a topic.
  • You can write your book to help promote your business and draw sales.
  • You can write it because becoming an author on the topic will translate you into an authority on the topic.

Whatever your reason for writing to know how to write a book, it is vital that you are clear about it. This can save your sanity on days when the project feels tough. It can also help with your sense of accomplishment when the book is out there.

Your definition of success can even determine how much you want to spend in terms of money and energy to make your book work.

So, this is where you start. Get clear about your book idea and also get clear about what success with your book means to you.

3. Finding Your Topic

Sometimes, what you want to talk about might be precisely clear to you. Other times, it would take a little brainstorming for you to figure out what this is. It is advantageous that you brainstorm.

Use Portent’s Content Idea Generator to generate ideas based on any subject you have in mind.

Portent’s Content Idea Generator home page screenshot

Make sure you have an organized list of the ideas that you come up with. Brainstorming your book ideas before you begin writing will keep you from jumping off to the next more attractive topic when you are halfway into your book.

Use the online mind mapping tool by Mind Meister for brainstorming.

online mind mapping tool screenshot

This can help you complete the book you have started. A surge of positive energy flows with finishing your book project.

A lot of writers end up with a collection of half-finished projects and nothing more despite knowing how to write a novel or a nonfiction book. The best way to avoid this situation is to brainstorm your book ideas before you begin writing.

Choosing the Topic

In the beginning, the idea you have chosen is usually a broad representation of what you want to write. Now, you want to give it a name that readers can call it and that will entice them to pick it up.

Use Hedgehog Concept for finding a great topic for your nonfiction book. Read all about this amazing concept here .

Hedgehog Concept for top creation

Here are a few great tips to help you with choosing a great topic for your nonfiction book:

  • Check on the bookstore for other books in your genre.
  • What are the similar books on there?
  • Can you figure out what your book category and subcategory is? Look through similar books on Amazon and you should determine these easily.
  • You can choose to name your book along the lines of what other accomplished authors in your genre call theirs or you can choose to name it what you find fanciful and catchy.
  • An easy way to choose titles for nonfiction books is to keep it simple, descriptive, and to include keywords.
  • Make sure that the title you give your book represents its message. This is very important to the reader and their perception of your work.

4. How to Write a Nonfiction Book with Research

When you have several book ideas listed, you must choose which one resonates with you the most. It is advisable that you write something you feel qualified to talk about.

It could be that you have enough experience in that field or that you have done some exceptional work that you want to share. If you are finding it difficult to choose just one idea, then narrow the list down to three ideas.

Once you have done this, you will need to begin researching the topic or topics. Find out whether there are already books on the topics or on similar topics. What are these books about specifically?

Research Your Readers

This is the most critical part of your book journey because you do not want to write a book that is stuck on the shelves unread. You need to understand your readers if you really want them to read your book.

After all, what’s the point of learning how to write a book if nobody reads it?

Try finding answers to following questions:

  • Who is your audience?
  • Who are the people who are most likely interested in your topic?
  • What do these people want?
  • What are their unique characteristics? For example, how long can they concentrate on reading?
  • How does this affect the length of your book?

It is your job to fill in the specific needs of your audience when you are writing your book. This will go a long way to keep you from wasting time writing a book that makes no impact.

Visiting online forums and groups that are already talking about the topic is an excellent way to find your target audience.

Research the Material

You may be writing the book from your personal experience which may make it easier to come up with the material.

This is one of the best benefits of nonfiction as opposed to fiction where you have to develop characters and new worlds. If you know how to write a novel, I’m sure you know what I’m talking about.

It is vital that the facts are accurate, however. Since this is a book that is less about imagination and more about purpose.

Make sure that the solution you provide through your book is accurate. The best way to do this is to double check your facts.

5. Structuring Your Book

book structure template

Now that you have all the preliminary issues sorted out, it’s time to start writing the book.

You need to give your book a structure . Nonfiction books become easy to write when they have a skeletal work for you to follow. You can achieve this by creating an outline. Use book writing software and tools for assistance.

Besides, writing a nonfiction book is serious business since your audience wants the information that you provide. They need you to help them solve a problem through the content of your book.

The Outline

Your outline is where you organize your book. It is your nonfiction book’s design.

A table of contents will help the reader quickly find portions of the book that they need for immediate use. It is helpful when your outline is detailed. It will be difficult for your book to convince its buyers when it has an inadequate outline.

Here is an example of how to outline your book based on its structure you just created:

book outline example

It also saves your sanity when you begin writing and keeps you from diving away into irrelevant information that your future reader may not need.

  • Your outline must include all the significant points that you want to cover in your book.
  • Organize your book outline in a way that immediately shows your reader what help your book can offer them.

A nonfiction book outline usually has an introduction, chapters that contain headings and subheadings, and a conclusion. The information contained in the book must be expressed in a way that it flows from one chapter into the next in a logical manner. Knowledge should be expressed in full by the time they reach the end of the book.

Go back to the characteristics of your audience.

  • What kind of readers are they?
  • Are they beginners or do they have some knowledge of what you are trying to say?
  • Maybe they are even advanced readers in the field.

Build momentum in the book by ensuring that they learn something specific and genuine.

Make sure that your reader ends the book feeling satisfied as though their problem has been solved or they have obtained the key to the solution they want.

This way, they will be waiting for your next book.

6. Your First Draft

You can begin writing as soon as your outline is ready. If needed, you can take a course on how to write a book that will help you get better at writing.

Writing always requires lots of rewriting and multiple drafts. You may even end up discarding your first draft entirely. When writing the first draft, however, all that you need to do is put your thoughts down.

Follow your outline. Think back to the characteristics of your audience that you identified. You will need this knowledge again to determine the tone of voice you need to use in speaking to this audience.

  • Should you be formal?
  • Can you informally speak to them?
  • Can be you conversational?

Determining this will help you decide what tone you ought to use in your writing. So, it ensures that they do not drop the book because it’s too formal or too complicated for them to understand.

The first draft is essentially just filling in the outline. When you see it like this, it becomes less daunting.

At this stage, you might become overwhelmed. But, the truth is that you have finished tackling a big and difficult part of the book writing process.

You have identified your target audience, figured out their problem for which you have a solution, and you have created a solid outline. You are well on your way to completing your book.

Remember, you are not working to make your book perfect. Instead, you are trying to fill your outline and to express that idea that you have.

You will have time later for editing and perfecting. Look at your book through its stages as presented in the outline. Your goal is to make sure that each step in the outline is filled out.

7. Consider Your Audience

The easiest way to flesh out your first draft is to  pretend that you are having a conversation with the ideal reader .

You are telling them how to solve the problem that is outlined in your book.  Now, the conversation is not a serious one. You are chatting with them. Your tone of voice depends on what kind of audience they are.

Here are four types of conversations that will give you an idea of what will work best for your audience.

four types of conversations

Here are three ways to talk to your readers and make them feel better:

  • Write your conversation on the topic.
  • Share your insights and your experiences with them.
  • Share your suggestions on how the problem can be resolved.

Your first draft is not where you deal with punctuation and grammar hacks. Your first draft is where you just write.

This method helps writers remain focus and approach their work with a flow that fast tracks it. Stopping to edit your first draft can distract you and make you lose the sense of what you are writing. There will be an entire phase of your book journey dedicated to that.

8. Flesh out Every Heading and Subheading

Make sure you are writing in detail and that you are offering suggestions and advice along the way.

Knowing how to write a nonfiction book may make you feel vulnerable if you are including personal experiences. However, this will help your readers trust you and relate to you. So, as much as you can, include these.

Make your first draft seem like you are advising a friend who has come to seek advice to resolve a problem. This approach makes it easier for you to write it and it also makes the book fun and easy to understand for the reader.

9. How to Write a Nonfiction Book by Creating Milestones

The most challenging part of learning how to write a nonfiction book is holding yourself accountable. Your book can get started and you could get as far as your first draft but never finish it.

This is due to procrastination and the fact that your deadline is self-imposed if you have one at all.

However, a book that does not get finished will not be read by anyone no matter how much time you spent writing it. In the end, it will have been a waste of time if you never see it through to completion.

Consequently, it will not answer the questions or solve the problems that you wanted to tackle. It cannot do any of these from your personal computer.

Your book needs to get to the reader to be able to help them. It can only get to the reader if you finish it. Now that you are on your first draft, you will find that you will be much more prone to distraction and procrastination.

Filling out that outline can feel all too burdensome. This is where setting up writing schedules comes in. You have got to hold yourself accountable. How do you do that?

Begin by setting a deadline for finishing your book.

Put the end goal in mind which is to publish your work: When do you want your book on the online bookstores or in the hands of your readers in physical form?

Set a Schedule for all Phases of Publishing

  • In the larger scheme of things, writing your nonfiction book is just the first step.
  • Create timeframes for things like cover design, formatting, and editing.
  • Keeping these bigger goals in mind and placing timeframes on them enables you to write.
  • Figure out how long editing will take and the amount of time you need to spend writing so that you have enough time for all these other goals.
  • Having a schedule will push you to complete your writing faster as it will create motivation.

This is even more important if you are writing a seasonally themed book.

For example, if you are writing about something that is a trend, you do not want the trend to be over before you release your book. By then, the number of readers will be far less. Thus, you cannot assume that you have all the time to write your book. You do not.

To keep your book fresh and relevant, you must get it out as quickly as possible . But, this is not to say that you should rush your book. Do your best to make your ideas clear.

Take the time that you need but don’t procrastinate because then the drive to complete this book will wear off. You have a readers out there that need your book.

Milestones are different from schedules. They deal with the writing process whereas schedules deal with the bigger picture or the end goal.

Using software like Aeon Timeline can help create milestones that will help you manage your book easily.

Aeon Timeline home page screenshot

Your milestones move you toward this end goal and help you get there. You can set daily milestones, weekly milestones, or even monthly milestones. These are goals targeted at how much of writing you get done – such as how many words you write in a day or what chapter you complete by the end of the week.

When you set schedules and milestones, make sure that you write them down as this is the best way to make yourself do them.

You can also put them in a portion of your house where you can see them, such as your bathroom mirror, your bedroom wall, or just above your writing table. This will remind you often of what you have set out to do.

10. Get a Professional Book Cover

Before you release your book to the world, you want to get a beautiful cover made for the book.

Make sure this book cover is professional and reflects the idea in your book as well as the title. There are online tools that can help you do that. You can also employ the services of professional cover designers.

Or, you can create your own book cover with Canva .

canva homepage screenshot

You can choose from different free templates, tweak it, add images, add icons, and do a whole lot of things with their simple drag-and-drop designing tool.

11. How to Write a Nonfiction Book with Editing

Perhaps the most crucial part of writing your nonfiction book is the editing.

You can begin editing your book yourself. It is not advisable to send your first draft to a professional editor. Read through your book and correct all the grammar and spelling. Add all the niceties that you have been tempted to add all along.

Read through your book at this stage as though it was written by someone else and jot down your criticisms.

Self-editing can be difficult. For some writers, it is almost impossible. If you want to be celebrated with your book, however, you must learn this skill.

You can use editing tools like Grammarly and Hemingway Editor that are free to use and will help you a lot in editing and improving readability.

Remind yourself that you are doing this to make your book come out even more exceptional.

Three Stages

Edit the book three times and send it off to beta readers on each occasion. The beta readers should be different each time and you should take their opinions into your next round of editing.

When you are through with this stage, it is time to send your work off to a professional editor.

Professional editors cost some money but they are worth the price. They bring a new perspective to your work and align the book with the expected standard of writing in that genre.

Your editor might schedule meetings with you to go over their suggested changes. This is a crucial stage of getting your nonfiction to a professional level. Professional editing is significant when it comes to how to write a nonfiction book.

As with any stage of your book, the final opinions remain with you. You must decide whether the changes made by your editor work for you.

Note that if you are publishing through a traditional publishing house, you might not have as much liberty with the editing process.

This is because the publisher knows precisely what is most likely to sell. The self-publishing arena is much more flexible and you have more control over the outcome of your book.

It Takes Dedication to Write a Nonfiction Book

Once your editor has gone through your book and made it more professional and you have made a stunning book cover, you are ready to publish.

This is the stage where you decide which publishing options will work best for you. You set your publishing dates, prepare for book launches and get to work marketing your book.

When it comes to how to write a nonfiction book, the tips that we have discussed in this guide will make the process easier and more streamlined for you.

how to write a book non fiction

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