Saturday, June 4, 2016
Writing Your Nonfiction Book
NONFICTION BOOKS: THE TRUTH, APPROXIMATELY
Books, even the best ones, only approximate reality. Not all details can be included. Not all details are correct. Even so, the nonfiction book author tries to include the important aspects and get these right. Ideally, the sources for the “facts” will be made clear, allowing some checking by skeptical readers and allowing others to follow up and get more information.
Experts have been shown to be wrong with surprising frequency (see David H. Freedman’s 2010 book Wrong), so you will be in good company if some of what you write turns out not to be correct. Try to keep that to a minimum!
CHOOSING YOUR NONFICTION NICHE
In his How to Write a Non-Fiction Kindle eBook in 15 Days, Karia (2015) recommends you first explore your interests and knowledge:
· What do I know well?
· What am I interested in?
· What could I research effectively?
· What experts can I access easily?
For Write Your Book with Me, I knew how to write, had written and published a lot, am interested in writing, and the Internet gives lots of opportunities for obtaining more information, as does amazon.com. I accessed the experts through their books. For my memoir, Ting and I, the answers were clear: I knew our life. For a third book, How to Manage Nursing Care at Home, I had over a decade of experience and co-authored it with Diane R. Beggin, a very smart and articulate Registered Nurse who had even more experience along with the requisite professional training and credentials. For a fourth book, SOLVED! Curing Your Medical Insurance Problems, I had a co-author who was an expert in the field, and I supplied some personal experience plus coaching and editing.
But will anyone buy it? I didn’t care much about sales with my memoir, as it was largely a gift to my wife and my family and friends. I hoped this book on writing would be popular and helpful, but at least it would be useful for my writing students / clients, and it serves as a thick business card. One author claimed that books are the best business cards on Earth. Still, one would like to go beyond handing them out.
Karia (2015) and others recommend using amazon.com to explore what is selling and where the opportunities are. He recommends noting the books that have sales ranks of 20,000 or less (where lower means more sales). A book of his that was ranked near 10,000 was selling 200 to 300 ebooks per month. A book ranking near 200,000 would be selling about one-twentieth as many per month. He notes, “If you can’t find at least three books with that low sales rank [10.000], it means there isn’t much demand for your topic.” Move on, unless you don’t care about sales. Karia also recommends checking with udemy.com to see what courses are most popular.
Next, focus on “narrowing your niche.” My title here, Write Your Book with Me, is probably too broad. “Memoir” rather than “Book” would have been better, but it would not have reflected the title of my web site and narrowed the book’s scope greatly. “Bestseller” would have been even more attractive, but I cannot really promise that. “First Book” would have narrowed the field and indicated that I was going to help newbies who were not likely to get published by traditional publishers. Our How to Manage Nursing Care at Home seems both needed and manageable, though. Watch for it on the bestsellers lists…if there’s nothing better to watch on TV.
More market research can be obtained by reviewing the Amazon reviews of the books you might have written.
Excerpted from my magnum opus, Write Your Book with Me, available from online booksellers, including amazon.com, bn.com, and its publisher, Outskirts Press. The 200-page paperback and the ebook formats are currently about $1 at amazon.com, and the truly intrepid and parsimonious can get the ebook free at WriteYourBookwithMe.com.