Three Traps For Nonfiction Writing

Hello writers, I hope you’re all staying safe and sane. I know there are many of you who are working on various writing projects, so over the next few weeks I’m going to offer up some short, quick-hitting blogs tackling a few book publishing-related questions or topics that often come up in consultations or my seminars.

First up, I want to focus on three things that can derail a nonfiction book or book pitch. As you’ve probably heard (many, many times), getting a book published isn’t easy. It requires you putting the right project in front of the right person at the right time. And, just as there are some things that can help you when writing and pitching your book (see my previous blog posts), there are also things to avoid.

Number one is a stale or oversaturated topic. It’s the number one complaint I’ve heard from agents and publishers I talk to about pitches from new writers. This is why doing your homework and researching what else is out there on the topic you’re writing about is so critical. You have to know when and how it’s already been covered and presented. Whatever the topic, you have to be sure you’re hitting it from a unique angle with something new to say.

Next up is lacking authority. When it comes to nonfiction, publishers (and readers) really want to hear from the experts. I often say that when a writer is getting started, they should write what they know. That’s their best shot of breaking in. I am not a scientist, so I should probably not be writing a book on nanotechnology. Unless I can pair up with a pro or two in the field. If you want to write about a particular topic that you’re passionate about, by all means, do so! It also might not hurt to get a couple industry leaders involved to help give your book some extra credibility.

Third is lack of human interest. Remember, the reason we read, whether fiction or nonfiction, is to take a journey and learn something. We read to see things from a different perspective, to find answers to questions we have, to better understand this thing called life. If you’re looking to get published, you have to make sure your writing has both a destination and the journey to get there, if that makes sense. You have to make sure it’s addressing issues that many of us deal with in our lives. That’s why a well written memoir can be so powerful; we see someone as they go through the ups and downs of their lives and it gives us perspective on our own. On that note, if I can offer a shameless plug, please check out the new memoir I worked on with writer Kori Causen that was just released, called “Paddle Out.” You can find it on Amazon (as well as under the “Books” section of my website). Make sure you know what the theme of your book is and more important, it’s overall appeal to an audience.

I hope that helps. Next time, I’ll do the same with fiction books. Until then, keep moving forward in your writing projects and know that I’m here to help. As we all deal with the challenging circumstances surrounding us, I am lowering my consulting rates. So if you do need some help, please reach out.

Take care, everyone!

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