If you want to write a book and don’t know where to start, you’ve come to the right place! In this super article (warning: it is very long) I am going to tell you how to write a non-fiction book step by step, specifically in 10 steps .
These 10 steps to writing a nonfiction book are focused on self-publishing a book. If you don’t want to self-publish or have the services of a self-publishing publisher, you can save yourself the last three steps. I, who am a big fan of self-managing my work, usually delegate some of these last steps, but I always monitor their result.
Let’s go there?
How to write a nonfiction book:
- Decide on the topic or category
You may have it very clear, but perhaps you doubt between several options. First of all we should talk about the category of the book, which would be the library (or store) shelf in which it would be classified.
If you are already clear on this point, you can go on to decide the specific theme. If not, if you want to write a book but you have no idea what category you want to be in, you should start here.
10 steps to writing a nonfiction book
How to choose the category of a nonfiction book
It’s about going from biggest to smallest. If you know, for example, that you want to write a self-help book because you are a psychologist and you want to talk about your specialty, you already have a great decision made.
First you decide the most general category, and then look within the subcategories for the one that best fits the topic.
Focus on a single topic
Once the category is selected, you have to choose the specific topic you are going to talk about.
With the example that we have given: self-help or psychology (which are totally different categories), you can see that there is a great variety of topics to be discussed. This happens whatever the category: cooking, healthy living, business, marketing, history.
- Focus on a single topic within this category.
- You have already narrowed down a bit more.
- How to choose the theme of your book
- Write a book that solves a specific problem.
A serious mistake that many authors make is wanting to explain everything in this first book. And not only is it not necessary, but it is totally counterproductive.
Ideally, within the chosen topic, select or narrow the topic even more, try to solve a single problem in your book. The more specific you are, the better.
Focusing on solving a single problem per book will provide you with a suitable audience for each of them, you will not be giving them straw or content that they are not really interested in.
In addition, it allows you to write many other books, each focused on solving a single problem or studying in depth one aspect of the chosen topic.
It is also better for the public to do so because the information can be processed and carried out more easily. You know what they say, who covers a lot little squeezes. Apply it.
If your reader feels that you have solved their problem and that all your content has been extremely useful, they will recommend your book or method and will buy the next ones if they are still oriented to their problems.
- Define your audience
Before continuing with the work of the book and its contents, it is essential that you think for whom you are writing. Who is your book for? Who has the problems you help to solve and how you should address them. Because it is not the same to help a 20-year-old to quit smoking, for example, as a 60-year-old; Among other things, because you will address them differently or because they have different life experiences.
It is essential that you create an ideal reader who knows him very thoroughly and that when you document yourself and write, you do so thinking about what that person knows , what is the best way to talk to him or how you have to tell him things. Not all of us share the same references, so it is essential that you know your audience in order to work with metaphors or examples that work for them.
- Document yourself before writing a book
Of course, the next step before starting to write is to be clear about any aspect related to the topic you are going to deal with, with the specific problem you are going to solve.
For this you have several options, depending on your prior knowledge:
- Write a nonfiction book
- Listing with your knowledge
- If you are an expert and control the subject thoroughly, you should make a list of aspects to be covered or essential content.
- With this list you will see in what things you need to document yourself: for example to provide specific studies or statistics.
- Do a topic search
If you are facing a subject that you do not control too much, it is best to read other books and other published authors. Search the Internet and read as much as you can, always focusing your searches on your most specific topic: the problem you must solve in your book.
- Decide on the content
Once you have made a first approach to the documentation, it is time to decide what you will include in the book and discard what you will not use in this book.
Do not discard the rest of the ideas definitively, they can be used for another book, but save them in a different file.
Once the content has been decided, now, documented thoroughly. Make a schematic note of everything that you cannot forget.
- Structure the content of your non-fiction book
Being clear about what you want the book to contain is not synonymous with knowing how you are going to present it to the reader. Although there may be a logical sequence in the explanation, this is not always the case, so at this point you have to think about the structure. In a non-fiction book, the structure is the index, but you have to consider Nexus Ghostwriting the division by chapters or sections and the internal structure of each of them.
Order the points
First, think about the logical sequence in which your reader should acquire the knowledge that you are going to tell him. If before entering the subject you need to explain or clarify some points, for example, choose a structure with previous considerations plus a step by step.
Ideally, again, the information should go from less to more, or from less specific to more specific. But it doesn’t always work like that, but sometimes you have to do things in a specific order. This is what you have to decide at this point. How are you going to tell the reader? What steps do you want me to take to solve your problem.
Divide the content into sections (titles), which contain subtitles, which in turn can contain other subtitles.
It is usually recommended in these cases that the subsections do not have more than three points to be covered or three subtitles, to facilitate understanding.
So: cut to the bottom and look for a structure that is easy to understand and follow.
If you explain a method (now we will talk about it) your chapters or sections could always follow the same structure: why this point of the method is important, what are you going to learn in it, how to carry it out and tips, for example.
If each of your chapters contains the same information, the reader reads it more easily and already knows what to expect. In general, they are perceived as better worked books and with a more thought and reliable method.
Do you have the possibility to create a method? To solve the problem applying a step by step? If you have it, apply it. Not only is it the best way to structure the content so that you don’t forget anything and explain everything in a logical way, but it will help the reader, for whom it will be easier to follow, understand and remember later.
It is about methodizing, creating a routine that your reader can follow step by step to always achieve the same results.
If you can do this, you will be saving your reader a lot of time. The methods follow a logical sequence. On many occasions you can achieve the same result without a method or without following a specific order, but the methods are designed to be more efficient.
A simple example?
The kitchen. When you are going to prepare a cake, they recommend you turn on the oven first of all. If you don’t, by the time you have the recipe ready the oven is cold. You will have to turn it on and wait. Most recipes can handle it, but the total time it will take to get the result is longer. Therefore, even if it is a step that will be necessary later, it is included in the method (or recipe) first. It is something that brings experience and logic, but if someone gives it to you, you save the trial and error.
The goal of a method is to have a routine that can be repeated on a regular basis so that it is easier to learn, remember, and carry out.
If you have a method, your reader can start working on it as soon as you start reading, without having to read the whole book at once. The logical thing is that you go through each step and continue.
In short, whenever you can turn your knowledge into a method, do it.
And when you are clear about the structure or method that you are going to explain, it is time to start writing.
You have the index and all the necessary documentation so your job will consist of writing what you already know and know you have to tell.
Don’t forget the ideal reader
To write it is important, I have already mentioned it before, to be clear to whom you are addressing. Don’t forget who you are writing for. Think about the references of that person, their tastes, their way of communicating and their needs. Write so that your ideal reader is satisfied with your book. You don’t want everyone to like you. It’s not possible.
The best way to finish a project is to have clear and achievable goals. If you plan to write 5000 words every day and you can’t, you will give up very easily.
Ideally, your goal is perfectly manageable: write half an hour every day, for example.
If you follow a routine and write daily, you will soon see that you do it more and more easily. Writing works like a muscle that needs to warm up and tune before it works well.
Create a calendar and follow it until you finish writing.
Use the formats.
One tip I can give you to save later work is to use the formats.
The formats are in all word processors. Use the “title” and “subtitle” formats to later create an index in which you will include the titles and subtitles.
If you work in word you can create an index or a pivot table, which collects the data of the selected formats. But the ideal is that you use a specific program to write, from my point of view Word is not a program for writers.
Use a specific program to write
For me, Scrivener is the best program for writers. It is designed to do this work and you can use it for projects as varied as novels, screenplays or any other type of project: I have one with recipes, another with blog articles and planning.
Scrivener has a word processor (such as word) and also saves all the documents related to a project in the same place (as you could do with any folder on your computer). The good thing is that without leaving the program you can see the different folders with documents, change documents easily, view and edit two or more documents at the same time, link them … The documents that you can use in Scrivener are text documents, but also PDF, mind maps, spreadsheets, images, web pages …
In Scrivener you can archive everything related to the documentation and planning of your project and also write it.
In addition, Scrivener allows you to take screenshots of what you are going to correct, mark the different corrections, use the change control … It is such a complete program that I should not recommend another. But I’m going to do it; D.
Ulysses is also my favorite show to write. In my case I use it to write blog articles because I can do it in markdown (something that Scrivener also allows) and upload them directly to the web in html format, it saves me a lot of time to format and upload to the web.
Ulysses has good export options, it is super simple to use and writing in it reduces many distractions. But for literature projects I still like Scrivener more.
Once you have finished the first draft, it is time to rewrite.
I recommend rewriting before correcting because it seems absurd to kill myself to correct if later I delete or change things. So before I start to correct, or pass the manuscript to the proofreader, I dedicate myself to reading it and rewriting whatever is necessary.
In this phase you have to make sure that there is no repeated information that the structure you have thought works well for the reader and that all the sentences read well. By this I mean that they have to understand each other the first time.
- Spelling correction
Now is the time to make sure there are no spelling mistakes in your finished book.
For me correcting something that I have written is almost impossible, so I recommend that you hire a professional proofreader for this step. Writing a book is not complicated, the really difficult thing is to get it well corrected. And, I repeat, that is something that one cannot do alone.
Why is it difficult to correct what one writes
Because we do not always distance ourselves enough from the text and I do not mean to read it critically, but simply to read it.
You will need about two or three months to be able to read the text as if it were the first time you read it.
If you do not wait that long, when it is very recent, your brain knows and remembers that text so it facilitates the reading task by completing it.
Even if you want, you will not read or see everything. It is impossible.
To correct yourself before those three months have passed, you should read the text slowly out loud. It is the only way to make sure that you read everything, and even so, a thousand things will happen to you, because you have written it, because it is like that and.
Because we don’t always have the right knowledge to do it. Whether it’s spelling or grammar, we don’t always have the skills to do it. Neither the time to learn them nor the time necessary to review a manuscript.
Delegating this role allows you to save time, ensure quality and create a professional image that will increase your credibility.
Yes, not all readers have the ability to notice mistakes, but that doesn’t mean they deserve to read something with flaws; unlike. If they read well, something will stick with them, at least for those who are interested.
On the other hand, there are those who do notice it because they read well and recognize bad spelling or bad punctuation. These readers are going to take it into account when forming an opinion about you. So have someone review your originals before you hit it off.
Layout is very easy using both Scrivener and Ulysses. You can get a good eBook without having any layout skills.
But make no mistake, they are not professional layouts, but they are totally acceptable to self-publish an eBook. Anyway, it is another step in writing a book that you can delegate perfectly.
If you write books to earn money with passive income, my recommendation is that you focus on producing content and delegate these last steps to professionals, they will be the best investment, both in time to produce and in quality of the result.
Create an index
When you mockup, don’t forget to create an index. You cannot publish books on Kindle (Amazon) that do not include it, so it is an essential step.
Your index must be interactive, of course, do not limit yourself to write index and copy the contents below. The titles must be linked to the content.
This is easy to do if you use text formats, in Word or another word processor you can create a dynamic table that includes the format you have chosen for the titles (h1, h2 …)
In Scrivener, the index is created when compiling and what it includes are the titles of the documents that you created to write the book. You can choose which titles to compile and which not to. As I have said it is very easy and you do it with a few clicks. The result of the compilation, the changes you make are not applied to the original, so you can compile in various formats (eBook, PDF, Word …) without having to work with several documents or modify the original.
In case it has not been clear, I think that to write professionally you have to have professional tools, and learn to delegate and invest in your work. If you order it from a professional, you won’t have to worry about a thing.
- Design cover
It is best to have a professional. If you want to save money and don’t control Photoshop or anything like that, you can use online programs, like Canva.
Design programs have predesigned formats in which you can create a cover by changing the photo, fonts, colors, and more. The measurements and the configuration of the image that is designed precisely to be an eBook cover.
Honestly, for a nonfiction book, a good tool like Canva is more than enough. But keep in mind that it is a program that, like you, everyone uses and that its templates can be modified. Do not stop doing it to personalize your cover enough so that it is not like any other.
- Design synopses and copies
The last step is to write a good synopsis and the copies with which you are going to sell the book. A short and a long synopsis for the cover, for Amazon, for the sales pages, for the announcements or communications that you publish on your social networks.
I like to work on this last step from the beginning. Sometimes writing a good synopsis (for a nonfiction book) can give you clarity on its contents and help you write a book better focused on what readers are expecting.
And nothing else, at this point you are ready to upload your book to Amazon and start selling it.