Thursday, June 14, 2018

12 Mistakes in Writing Nonfiction

Steve Harrison of Bradley Communications hosted (06/13/18) a valuable telephone seminar by former MacMillan and Wiley editor Debbie Englander, who has a coaching program she calls “Bionic Book Writing” (see, done in conjunction with Harrison et al.

Here are the 12 mistakes, paraphrased:

1.    Boring Title: Make yours a bit mysterious. List some titles and subtitles, then mix and match to see if you get something both informative and intriguing.

2.    Wrong Length: Aim for 45-55k words, roughly 250 pages. Much longer than that? Consider two volumes. Much shorter? Add stuff, quizzes, quotes, interviews….

3.    Inconsistency: Set patterns and stick to them. In writing a memoir, use first person (I, we). In writing a narrative, use third person (he/she, they). Use simple past tense or present tense almost exclusively.

4.    Missing Benefit Statement: Readers want WIIFM, “what’s in it for me.”

5.    Disorganized: Find a successful book with a clear pattern and use that.

6.    Ho-hum: Make yours stand out, Be unique. E.g., Tim Ferriss’s 4-hour Work Week.

7.    No Target Market: Picture your ideal reader as you write. Choose your demographics: age, gender, education, occupation….

8.    Old Information: Find new stuff and highlight it.

9.    Being a Hermit: Get out and meet people. Write a blog or respond to some. Get you social media friends to pitch in.

10.         Bland Writing: Spice it up. Take some chances.

11.         Being Anonymous: Tell some of your life story, instead.

12.         Over-promising: Claim a lot, then fulfill your claims, convincingly, with support and authority.

I’m confident that Steve Harrison’s programs are excellent, but if you end up not being able to afford his, check out mine and get a free Kindle copy of my Write Your Book with Me.

Douglas Winslow Cooper, PhD

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