9 Steps to Writing Nonfiction (with 7 Bonus Tips)

Last Updated on July 20, 2022 by Dr Sharon Baisil MD

Nonfiction books are a different beast than fiction. They require more preparation before you write them, and often, they follow an outline. This post is intended to give first-time writers the tips they need for writing nonfiction books that will captivate readers!

9 Steps to Write Nonfiction Books

1.Research nonfiction book topics

The first step to write a nonfiction book is to research your topic. Find out what the readers are looking for and do not try to force something uninteresting.

Do some background work on topics you may be interested in but have limited appeal or widespread recognition.

For example, if someone wants their story told, it can be a great idea to write about this experience as long as there is enough demand from others who want to read similar stories.

The same is true for nonfiction books that are how-tos. What do people want to know? How can you write about it in a fresh way?

Write what interests and excites you so much that the topic has become an obsession with your readership.

2. Create a mind map of your book

A mind map will help you create nonfiction book topics in a structured way. Fill the pages with words, phrases, and ideas related to your topic.

When creating a nonfiction book, they must be practical so readers can use them for reference purposes or directly implement steps into their lives.

It’s also good practice to write out what benefits people would gain from reading this content, which helps writers write about how-to information more effectively.

For example: “My memoirs reveal my experience of being diagnosed with cancer.” This tells us nothing about why we should read such an account, but if instead we were told: “I wrote down everything I was going through while discovering I had cancer because other women like me want to know what it’s like.”

This offers a more compelling reason for reading the book and is likely to lead people who have had cancer or care about someone with cancer to buy your books.

Another example: “An essay on why I think you should write every day” may not be as interesting as: “These nine steps will show you how to write daily no matter where you are in life.” The second version suggests we’ll learn something practical that makes our lives better. That sounds enticing!

3. Writing an outline based on the mindmap

The outline acts as a skeleton on which you write your book. It is not meant to be taken literally, and the order of topics/chapters can change. Still, it’s invaluable for keeping track of where everything fits in, so you don’t accidentally write yourself into a corner halfway through nonfiction writing projects.

Remember that one way to write a nonfiction book successfully is by giving readers what they want—so let us know how this will help them!

Use action verbs when describing steps in your mind map or outline: “I’ll show you,” “You should do,” etc., rather than simply stating information like, “This works.”

You’ve probably heard that advice before because it helps engage the reader from the beginning. If we’re told how something works, why should we care? But if the writer tells us what they will show us or teach us—we are more likely to read on.

This is especially important for a nonfiction book because it keeps readers engaged and gets them excited about taking action themselves (which is crucial for self-help projects).

If you write your outline like a personal letter of advice, with explanations rather than just bullet points, you’ll write better nonfiction content that entices others!

When creating mindmap, write down step-by-step instructions people can follow when reading nonfiction book projects.

Think carefully about where each point will appear within the structure of your proposal; make sure everything fits together logically, so there aren’t any gaps or redundancies.

4. Choose a writing style

Ensure that your writing is in a consistent style throughout your nonfiction book, so the reader knows what to expect.

If you write in an informal tone, don’t switch to formal language halfway through; if you write clearly and concisely one chapter, use that same style for all of the—readability is very important when people are looking for information they can trust!

5. Schedule time to write your book

Write a nonfiction book project, in short, focused bursts. Don’t write for hours at a time because it’s difficult to stay motivated when the project takes too long; try breaking things down into chunks that take no longer than 30 minutes (or whatever works best for you).

This allows you to write as much as possible without getting overwhelmed. Not only will this save time, but it also makes editing go faster because everything has been written in small increments—you won’t have a mountain of text that needs to be read through carefully and revised several times!

6. Create a writing space

Think about the place where you write your nonfiction book projects and make sure it’s as comfortable as possible. If there are distractions, find a way to get rid of them because writing should be focused on content—not anything else going on around you!

If necessary, create an ideal environment for thinking creatively without any external stimuli; jot down nonfiction book content in a separate room from where you sleep, eat or watch television.

7. Write your nonfiction book in order

Start from chapter one and write the book content in the order it appears within your outline.

This will make things easier to keep track of when you’re writing a nonfiction book project, especially if there are dozens or hundreds of chapters! It also makes editing go faster because you won’t have to backtrack very far, which saves time.

8. Write the first draft of the book one chapter at a time

When you break down your book project into manageable chunks, it appears less intimidating. It feels more approachable than writing an entire project all at once, which can motivate writers to write faster!

If you write each chapter as its own document instead of completing everything first and then editing, you’ll write the entire book one chapter at a time—which is very efficient.

Also, it’s easier to write a nonfiction book project this way because each section can be focused on just one point; if there are multiple points within one chapter (and they’re not clearly separated), try breaking up that single chapter into several shorter ones to make the project easier to write.

9. Have your manuscript professionally edited

It’s important to write a nonfiction book as clearly and concisely as possible, but it’s also necessary to have them edited by people familiar with the topic.

Some parts need extra clarification or others where details aren’t quite accurate; having an outside source take a look will ensure your work is polished enough for publication.

Grammar mistakes, typos, and other inconsistencies can distract readers from the information you’re trying to convey—and that’s a chance every writer should be willing to take.

7 Bonus Writing Tips for First-Time Nonfiction Author

1. Write in a style that is both attractive and easy to read

Using short sentences and paragraphs makes the writing easier to follow. Writing in a simple, clear style is also important.

It’s much more difficult for readers to get through pages of convoluted jargon than reading pages that are well-organized, easy on the eyes, and straightforward in meaning.

Writing with an attractive or “pleasing” style is more important than writing with a “fancy” or “flowery” one.

Short words are better than long ones, and using the same word over again in a short period of time can be jarring for readers because it makes them stop and try to remember what the last word was that you used.

It’s good practice to vary sentence structure, punctuation, and word choice as much as possible.

The fewer the words on a page, the easier it is to write clearly. Every time you write something, ask yourself if there’s any way that what you’re writing could be simplified or shortened without sacrificing meaning.

If so, then do it! You should always avoid using too many adjectives and adverbs and instead write in a way that uses strong nouns and verbs.

2. Write with authenticity and honesty

It’s important to write the truth, but it can be tricky! You should write with honesty and authenticity without alienating your reader.

If you’re writing nonfiction, people are reading it because they want information – not a story – so write about things that actually happened in a way that will keep readers engaged.

Don’t write something just for shock value. As a nonfiction author, you should write about things that are true and write them in a way that will keep readers interested.

Please don’t write anything unless it really happened to you or someone else who isn’t fictional. Make sure your writing always has the ring of truth to it!

Writing with honesty is key when creating nonfiction. Avoid writing anything that isn’t true just to write something. It will be obvious if you’re not honest, and readers won’t enjoy your work as much!

Writing in an authentic and truthful way can sometimes feel challenging, but it’s the most effective approach for nonfiction writing when done correctly.

Make sure your stories always ring of truth and write about things that actually happened to you or someone else.

3. Write a nonfiction book that is entertaining and interesting

You want your reader to enjoy what they’re reading, so write in a way that will keep them entertained. You should write as if you were sitting down with the reader and telling them about something instead of writing like no one’s going to read it!

Even if you’re imparting information, make sure that the information is presented in a way that will keep readers engaged.

Keep your writing entertaining and interesting by making it feel like you’re sitting down with them, talking about what you write!

It’s important when creating nonfiction to write in a way that is both entertaining and interesting. Remember to write as if you were sitting down with the reader telling them about your piece of work!

4. Write about your own life or a topic you are passionate about

People will read your nonfiction if it’s interesting to them, so write about things that matter the most to you!

People tend to gravitate toward writing they can relate to because it feels more real. If there is something in your life that has impacted who you are as a person, write about it!

When you write a nonfiction book, scribble about what matters to you the most. Your writing will be more interesting and relatable if you’re passionate or knowledgeable on your subject!

Write in a way that is authentic and engaging by using pieces of yourself within your work. If there’s something unique or special about you, use it in your nonfiction to write about things you are passionate or knowledgeable about.

When writing nonfiction, make sure what you write is interesting and relatable by using pieces of yourself within the work! People will be more interested if it’s something they can connect with because that means they’ll understand exactly how it feels.

5. Write in a way that is simple and concise

It might feel like you’re writing forever if you write too much or write about things people don’t care about.

Keep your nonfiction pieces short and sweet by making them easy to read! If there’s something difficult, use analogies to explain it instead of using more words. Don’t make your reader work to understand what you’re saying, write in a fun and easy way to read.

Writing a nonfiction book can be challenging if it feels like there is too much information or your readers don’t care about the subject matter because then no one will want to read it!

Keep your nonfiction pieces short by using simple language that is easy to understand! If you’re writing about a difficult topic, try using an analogy as it will be easier for the reader to comprehend what you mean.

Make sure your writing is engaging by keeping things concise and understandable with straightforward words.

If your nonfiction is difficult to write about, use analogies and other supporting visuals to get the message across.

Please write in an easy way for everyone to understand by using simple language or making it entertaining with analogies! Don’t make things complicated because then no one will want to read it.

6. Write in a way that will get people to take action

You should write a nonfiction book in such a way that your readers will be urged to take action! Whether it’s reading your blog post or buying the product mentioned on there, write in a way that either makes them more informed about what they’re doing or inspires them into taking some kind of action.

Make sure to write in a way that will get people to take action by either informing them more about what they’re doing or inspiring them to do something! Whether it’s buying your blog post or product mentioned on there, write in a way that makes the reader feel like they need to act.

Your nonfiction book title should hold readers’ attention so that they are inspired or educated about what to do next. You can write to inform them more or inspire them to take action!

Writing in a way that informs people and inspires them toward doing something unique will keep your readers engaged in your work. Whether it’s making someone buy from

7. Take time off necessary to come up with good ideas for content

A newbie nonfiction writer will find it challenging to write about topics that interest the reader consistently.

The best way to write engaging content is by taking your time and figuring out what will attract readers!

Take enough time to develop good ideas for content because it’s important for people to find things they are most likely going to enjoy or learn from.

Write only on relevant and fascinating topics so that your readers can stay engaged with what you have written!

Writing fiction or nonfiction is difficult if there isn’t anything of substance within them, making writing not as engaging as possible. It’s best when taking time off after thinking of better ways to write about more compelling material!

Donate an hour or two a week finding new information, talking with others, experimenting, or doing something else that inspires you to write more compelling nonfiction pieces because it’s what will captivate your audience!

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best fiction book idea to create a bestseller?

Answer: The book of interviews

The book of interviews is the best book idea because it could be valuable to anyone with entrepreneurial aspirations or who loves following business news.

The interviews are usually with successful people in the business world, and they discuss everything from how they work, to their daily routines, to what makes them successful.

If the authors were willing to give tips on health, relationships, finances, and other types of advice, it would help readers decide which habits might bring them the most success.

Your book idea could be the next bestseller if you write in a way that attracts readers and makes them learn something!

What are the advantages of self publishing non-fiction books?

Answer: Self publishing is an excellent option when you want to bypass the gatekeepers of large publishing houses and reach your audience.

You can publish when you feel like it, at any time in your life, without the wait time or risk of rejection that comes with traditional publishing.

Self publishing allows for many great benefits, including higher profit margins than traditionally published authors typically enjoy. It also means that you can update material easily without excessive processing fees.

The self publishing process is very streamlined in most places (a few only require the approval of one editor) and does not involve heavy processing fees like dealing with a large publication house might.

Companies like Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) make it easy to write, format, and share your book with the world in just minutes.

Who are the best nonfiction authors?

Answer: Here are the three best nonfiction authors:

1. Michelle Obama

Michelle Obama is the author of two books ranked among the best to be published in recent history.

Her books, “Becoming” and “Unapologetic,” received critical acclaim for their eloquent prose and Obama’s ability to write about topics many African-American women can relate to.

2. Yuval Noah Harari

Professor Yuval Noah Harari has taught History, Political Science and International Relations at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem since 2008 and is now Visiting Professor at New York University.

Being one of the best nonfiction authors, Dr. Harari speaks to audiences worldwide about a broad range of topics, including creativity, power relationships in human society, religion as a cultural phenomenon, and cliodynamics for predicting social change.

3. Joan Didion

Joan Didion has written several nonfiction titles about her life, including “The Year of Magical Thinking,” which focuses on the death of her husband and daughter.

Is self publishing worth it?

Answer: Self publishing is an opportunity to make something work. The amount of success you feel like you can produce is entirely up to how much effort and dedication you decide for yourself.

As an indie author, your support system has grown well past the point where it just comes from one editor, one agent, or one fan. Your support now includes your backers on platforms like Kickstarter or Indiegogo, bloggers who promote similar work that they want others to read quickly – before everyone forgets about it – reviewer groups making mention in their journals…you name it. And this doesn’t consider the impactful comments and suggestions coming in from readers themselves, which can be priceless feedback even if no sale ever results!

How long does writer’s block last?

Answer: Writers block can sometimes last for a few hours, weeks, or even months.

Even while writing fiction or nonfiction, it’s still possible that you suffer from writers block.

In most cases, though, a writer with strong motivation and focus can overcome writers block to produce quality content for their readership.

How long does it take to write a nonfiction book?

Answer: It can sometimes be an arduous process to compile a nonfiction book. The more research you do, the better, but there is also no need for information overload since many readers will happily skip content pages if they are not relevant to their needs.

Begin by identifying what your audience or target market is looking for. What are their pain points? What kind of problems do they have that you can solve with your own experiences? Then write about it!

Once you get started, the rest will come naturally over time as long as there’s something to say on a topic that hasn’t already been said before.

What are the mistakes that first-time nonfiction authors make?

Answer: There are various mistakes that people make when writing a book for the first time. This can include selecting an inappropriate topic, not knowing their audience, and planning enough of the content to avoid errors with spelling or grammar.

They may also try to cover too many topics at once, making the book feel like it has no focus. The target audience should be considered, and the book should focus on a single topic to make it easier for readers to find what they are looking for.

Some authors also struggle to manage their time and keep up with deadlines, resulting in a final product that is not what they originally intended for readers.

Other mistakes include :

  • Not double-checking facts and statistics.
  • Not researching current market trends in-depth enough to understand the competition.
  • Writing an entire book on a subject that is not profitable or popular enough for readership demand.

How to start writing a nonfiction book?

Answer: There should be a clear plan and outline for your content before you start writing.

You should know exactly what point or points you want to drive home to readers, as well as how much information is enough without overwhelming them with too many details.

You will also need to create an effective title that can capture attention and be memorable enough to stand out among the rest of your competition.

How do I find a good topic for my nonfiction book?

Answer: It cannot be easy to find a suitable topic when writing about something unique and different from what’s already available in the marketplace.

The target audience should also be well defined and ready to read your work.

Some people choose a broad topic while others focus on one particular interest or passion, which can help them write about it with more depth and clarity.

How do I organize my nonfiction book?

Answer: You should start by creating an outline of the topics covered in the book.

This is a good way to ensure that you stay on track and don’t wander too far from your initial ideas for the content.

You should also create an outline of how many chapters will be in your nonfiction book, along with all relevant subtopics or categories within each chapter.

The entire point of creating an outline is to identify what your readers want to learn to deliver it in an organized way.

Self-edit to ensure quality and accuracy.

What format do I write my nonfiction book in?

Answer: There are many different mediums to choose from when writing a nonfiction work, including Print, ebook, physical paperback, and even audiobooks. You should consider your target audience before deciding on the best option for you, which could be any combination

Write out ideas for each topic in your book before you start writing the content itself. This is a great way to explain things that are easier for readers to understand and follow along with.

Remember to focus on what’s important without blabbering too much or missing key details that will be vital.

How much research do I need for my nonfiction book?

Answer: Depending on the topic, the amount of study required will differ. Some people spend decades studying a specific field before they feel confident enough to write about it.

You should always research your topic as much as possible and double-check facts and statistics that may be relevant for sources in the book’s bibliography or reference section at the end of each chapter.

It is also important to focus on current trends so that readers will find value in reading what you have to say.

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