Writing a nonfiction book can be quite the intimidating task for first-time authors. It’s a lot more work than many people realize until they sit down to start writing it. With that said, here are the biggest mistakes when writing a nonfiction book. Avoiding them will make it so much easier to achieve your lifelong dream of being a published author.
Mistake #1: Not Identifying Why You’re Writing a Nonfiction Book
Having a documented goal behind your book is important and yet so many new authors skip this essential step. Writing a book is tough and will present a lot of adversity so having a goal keeps you pushing forward.
Write down your goal before you put a single word into your book. What is the purpose your book will serve for both yourself and your readers. Don’t give a generic goal like “I want to make money” because that’s not a legitimate goal. You need a goal that drives you!
Mistake #2: Not Identifying the Reader
Every successful book is written with a specific type of reader in mind. Identifying the reader is one of the most important steps of writing a nonfiction book. Most new authors think “this book is for everyone.” That’s a huge mistake.
Define a specific audience for your book. Even though we all write books in our own style, having a reader in mind will change the way you spin certain phrases. Plus it makes it easier during the marketing phase.
Mistake #3: Not Following the Rules of Story Structure
Yes, you have to follow story structure in nonfiction. Any form of book writing is storytelling so all rules apply. However, many new authors write their first book in a way that reads like a diary – or worse, they bounce ideas around like a ping pong ball.
Nonfiction books require a narrative arc. Although the narrative is different from fiction, it’s still structured in a way that makes the book flow from beginning to end. Nonfiction will look something like this:
- The problem.
- Motivation to solve that problem.
- Solution to the problem.
Mistake #4: Writing What You Want Rather than What your Reader Needs
Beginners tend to write nonfiction that discusses issues that they want to discuss rather than addressing the problems of the reader. This is seen as fluff and can absolutely destroy the narrative in a nonfiction book.
Authors must focus on showing the reader how to solve the problem presented in the book. It should connect the dots for the reader. Walk them through the problem and solution in the same way a fiction writer walks their readers through the plot.
Final Thoughts on Writing a Nonfiction Book
Avoiding those 4 mistakes is essential when writing a nonfiction book. You must identify your audience, their problem, and then walk them through a solution.
With that in mind, there is one more important, yet often misunderstood step that you must take when publishing a nonfiction book. Always hire an editor for your first book. I get it. It’s tough for beginners to see all of those red marks in their manuscript but it’s an essential step.
Here’s to writing a nonfiction book that succeeds!