Books, Fiction, writers, Writing

N is for Nonfiction 

Some of you know that my first two books published were nonfiction works. It started with What Would I Tell Her @ 13, a parenting book that focused on teen daughters. The second book, News Now, was a career guide for those interested in joining the TV news industry. Since then, I’ve added several titles to my Amazon page but none of them have been of the nonfiction genre. Even then, I enjoy writing nonfiction content for magazines and blogs. In a way, writing nonfiction gives me a little break from the fiction. Or rather, it brings me back to reality for a bit.
If anyone asks me how different it is to write nonfiction, I’ll say it’s mostly different. Why? Because we’re talking about sticking to facts here. When you’re writing a story full of made up characters and settings and plot, you have the freedom of letting your mind wander. Experimenting is allowed. In fact, the characters that we give birth to, often end up taking us authors in their own direction. So yes, nonfiction book writing is more structured that way. 
I was commissioned by a publisher to write both of my nonfiction books but of course I had to follow the publishing industry process. 
1) I was given the topic in one line and found out about the intended audience. 
2) I spent days reading whatever I could find on the topic,making copious notes that I still treasure. 
3) It was time to put my research, knowledge and writing skills to action with a detailed outline. In my outline, I included every chapter that I thought my book should have. For example, in my parenting book, I included chapters dedicated to teen tantrums, goals, friendship, cyber safety and so on.
4) I used my outline to make a proposal for the published because they need to know that you have the right idea about book content. You need to be on the same page before you start writing.
5) And finally, I wrote three sample chapters which needed approval before I could get a contract and start the actual manuscript. The samples are a great way to show the publisher your writing style. If you’re self publishing your nonfiction book, ask a beta reader to check sample chapters first.
I mentioned above that nonfiction is more structured and completely based on what’s real. Still, there’s an important similarity with fiction writing — storytelling is a must. So even if you’re dealing with concrete facts and real life matters, you can’t be boring. Placing random facts together. Putting in page after page of research findings. Or case study after case study. Those are things that you must include but incorporate into storytelling. For example, I interviewed top journalists for my second book and successful women in various fields for my first book, but I couldn’t just throw them onto my manuscript by themselves. Instead, I linked the interviews to relevant research findings and my own observations.
Packaging is important. You could give the readers the same information with little snippets and boxes and cool features within your chapters OR make it one of those ugly old school textbooks that students just memorise and forget.
Plus, nonfiction books give you the opportunity to establish yourself as a speaker or expert on a topic. For example, if you’re a writer who writes books about Indian history, colleges maybe invite you to share your thoughts with the students.
Nonfiction is the truth but a skilled writer can convey that truth in engaging ways. Remember that.

5 thoughts on “N is for Nonfiction ”

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