How to Write a Non Fiction Book
Are you an expert on a subject that would interest a large number of people? Do you have first-hand experience or knowledge that might benefit, profit, amuse, intrigue or inspire others? Have you set up and run a successful business? Built your own house? Walked round the coast of Britain? Prospected for gold in the Andes? Perhaps you're already thinking about writing a book, but don't know where to begin.
Assessing your Idea
Before you commit yourself to the project and all the hard work it will involve, ask yourself:
- Is the subject big enough for a book? An Encyclopedia of Houseplant Care would be. How to Water Your Aspidistra wouldn't.
- Would the subject interest a wide enough readership to make it a commercial proposition? Books do get written and published on some pretty obscure topics, but they're usually intended for a specialist market. It depends on how wide a readership you want to reach, and on whether it's mainly profit or prestige you want. It also depends on finding the right publisher for your subject. Many publishers might want An A-Z of Microwave Cookery, but few would take on, for instance, Advanced Theory of Semi-Conductors.
- Will the subject attract the book-buying public as well as library stockists? The biggest potential sales are in books on self improvement (both physical and psychological), health, food and diet, leisure activities and hobbies. Do-it-yourself titles sell well, and books on cookery and gardening waltz off the shelves. 'How to' books are in constant demand, especially those that show how to make or save money.
You've Got a Suitable Subject- So How do you Tackle it?
First, break it down into manageable sections. The prospect of getting 30,000 words or more down on paper can be pretty daunting. Split into ten or twelve chapters of 3,000 words, it loses much of its terror - you can think of it as a series of articles.
Divide your subject on paper, then, into ten or twelve sub-themes. These will form your chapters. Under each sub-theme heading note all the information you already have relevant to that section. Note any obvious gaps in the information. You'll have to do some research to fill those gaps.