Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Tips for Writing Non-Fiction

The non-fiction form has undergone a transformation in the past decade. Many more books today are published that blur the line between fiction and non-fiction. And in other cases, the standards for literary excellence in non-fiction writing have risen; no longer is non-fiction thought primarily as a way to transfer knowledge gleaned from research or insight or interview. Non-fiction today describes a robust category of high quality writing on a diverse set of subjects that is meant to be both informative and entertaining.

Following are some simple tips for writing non-fiction:

1. Find a subject that fascinates you: Four-fifths of the battle in getting other people interested in a subject is to have that interest yourself.

2. Understand the tradeoffs between narrow and broad focus: In recent years, there has been a trend in non-fiction, referred to as the “noun” books. These are books written about very narrow and commonly found “things” in our lives, such as salt, coal, and water. This would be thought of as a narrow focus, as opposed to books that cover the subject of say war, work, and economics. Narrow-focused books typically require a lot of highly detailed research. They offer depth. Broader- focused books, on the other hand, offer breadth, and sacrifice some of the details in the process.

3. Research practices: One of the great things about the Internet is that it has greatly eased the process of book research. However, there are not many quality controls on the Internet, so make sure that your research standards are not diminished by relying solely on research done on the net. While this will be appropriate for certain subjects, it will not be for most.

4. Read: The writing of great non-fiction is about 10% writing, and 90% researching, thinking, and reading other works. If you follow the first tip above, then this part will be the labor of love in the process of writing your non-fiction book.

Need more advice on writing , editing, book design, printing, distribution, or marketing? thepublishingguru(at)gmail.com


  1. All excellent points here. The ease of self-publishing, whether an ebook or a printed book, means anyone can produce a book. And not everyone is as careful with the info he/she puts into a book as you might be when writing yours. This means that even when you are doing research for your book, you must be careful of the source of your info. Make sure to fact-check for accuracy and get the book edited properly.

    1. Thanks for the input Monica. I need to RT your posts. Great stuff!!!


Who links to my website?