Over the past few weeks, readers have asked for a writing strategy for nonfiction. So let’s look at that.
As you may know, I’m heavily into publishing fiction these days. Fiction out-sells nonfiction on the Kindle Store. I still publish nonfiction, however. Why not? Providing you stick with what you know, writing nonfiction is easy.
When writing nonfiction, stick with what you know
If you have some knowledge of your topic, research is easier. You know what questions to ask. 🙂
Writing on a topic about which you know zero is a challenge. It’s more than possible however. When you’re ghostwriting for clients, you need to know how to research quickly, when you know nothing about the topic.
Let’s assume that you’re self-publishing a nonfiction ebook, and you know something about the topic. You need to know more, and you need a strategy.
Before you start, you need to get enthusiastic.
Vital: find your creative spark
Passion for your material is vital in everything you write. Otherwise not only is writing drudgery, but your disinterest comes through in your words.
So, focus on finding a passion for your topic. Sometimes it’s not easy. I’ve ghostwritten books on topics for which I initially had zero passion. I had to research until I found something — anything — about the topic which excited me.
You can do it. 🙂 A tip… money isn’t sufficient motivation, take it from me. You need something beyond money.
Writing nonfiction: a writing strategy
OK, you’ve found a seed of passion for your topic. Now let’s look at a writing strategy.
In a nutshell:
- Write a 200 word description of the ebook. This is a blurb. It’s a summary. You can use this as a foundation for writing your ebook’s description when it’s time to publish;
- Compile a list of research questions — who, what, how, when, where and why. This is what you don’t know. Do it over several days.
- Next, write an outline — just do it. I rarely outline fiction; I always outline nonfiction. Create a simple list outline. If you’re a Scrivener user, as I am, create a list of documents in your Draft folder.
- Start writing.
- Do minimal research while you’re writing. Your aim is to storm through a first draft. Research will bog you down. Mark areas where you need to research with “XXX”. If you’re using Scrivener, drag those documents into a “To Do” collection.
- With your first draft done, do your research. Stick with answering your questions, and time your research. Research can be very seductive.
- Revise, and rewrite, including your research. If you’re interviewing people, often you won’t be able to add the information you get from them until you’ve completed your second draft. Don’t worry about it — keep moving forward.
Some tips for your nonfiction ebook writing strategy
“Where do I get information?” — this is a common question. The answer is: ask questions.
I just checked Google News, and found this article: Why a congresswoman started cooking — and ‘eating clean’ — at 47. I’ve heard about “eating clean”, but I have zero idea of what that might be.
Let’s say I decided to write an ebook about eating clean. Where could I start asking questions?
- Find forums online where people talk about eating clean;
- Find blogs which talk about it;
- Use HARO to find people to interview;
- Find Amazon books on diet and related topics.
It turns out that “eating clean” is a movement. Who knew? I checked Google, and there are forums, blogs… Not to mention, lots of books on Amazon.
Vital: don’t get bogged down in your research. Remember your spark. Stick with what excites and intrigues you. When you find that, you’ll find an angle — a point of view for your ebook.
Onward… start writing!
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