How to Write a Nonfiction Book in 2023: The Ultimate Guide for Authors

By Jason Hamilton
Last updated on January 23rd, 2023

If you want to be a nonfiction author, we’ve got the perfect guide for you. 

This ultimate guide will walk you through the entire process of creating your nonfiction book, from the initial idea to the final publication.

In this article, you will learn:
  1. How to ensure your idea will sell
  2. How to outline and write your nonfiction book
  3. How to polish your book to make it perfect
  4. How to publish and market your book for maximum success

Links in this article may give me a small commission if you use them to purchase products. There’s NO extra cost to you, and it helps me continue to write handy articles like this one.

Chapter 1

Part 1: Before You Write Your Nonfiction Book

The first step in writing any book is to identify your ideas, make sure they’re viable, and do a LOT of research.

Determine What Problem Your Nonfiction Book Solves

When it comes to nonfiction writing, it's common for beginning ideas to be a bit vague. It's easy to have a general concept in mind, but to truly make your book a success, you need to do market research to ensure there's an audience for your work. 

This research will help you narrow down your focus and identify the specific problem your book will solve.

In most cases, nonfiction books are written to solve a specific problem. Whether it's a how-to guide on a particular topic, or a self-help book addressing a certain issue, these types of books are meant to provide readers with valuable information that can help them in some way. 

Side note: there are some genres, such as history books, creative nonfiction, or memoirs, that don't quite fit into this mold. But even in these cases, it's still important to understand why people want to read it.

When doing market research, it's important to answer the five W's of your book: the who, what, where, when, and why. 

By answering these questions, you'll be able to identify your niche and craft a book that truly resonates with readers.

Validate Your Book Idea

Before you completely narrow down your story or topic, you need to know if it's a good idea or not. To do this, you need to run through four steps:

  • Step 1: Learn if and how many people search for your book idea
  • Step 2: Learn if the idea is profitable during the book topic validation process
  • Step 3: Discover how hard the competition is for your book
  • Step 4: Rinse and repeat

If you find your book topic is not profitable, you can still write it. But if that's the case, you will have to resort to different marketing tactics. You will need to focus on finding the right market somewhere other than Amazon, and getting them interested in reading your book.

Read more in our article on book idea validation.

Determine Your Audience

When it comes to market research for your book, the most important part is understanding your audience. Without a clear understanding of who you're writing for, it will be difficult to create a book that truly resonates with readers. Counterintuitively, you want to narrow down your audience as much as possible. 

One of the best ways to narrow down your audience is by creating a customer avatar. This is a single person that represents your ideal reader. 

The more specific you can make this person, the better. 

It's important to think about things like their gender, age, background, education level, family situation, and even how much money they make. 

The more specific you can get, the more you'll understand about the kinds of problems they're facing, and how your book can help them.

Having a customer avatar in mind can help you make important decisions about your book, such as what types of information to include, what tone to use, and even what types of marketing to do. 

It also helps to think of your customer avatar when you are writing as well so you are writing with a specific person in mind and that will help you to keep your writing more focused. 

Chapter 2

Part 2: Outline the Book

Outlining is the next part, and is particularly important for nonfiction books.

You want to make sure you are covering all the subjects thoroughly in your nonfiction book outline, and nothing is lost in translation. Here are some ideas to help.

Brainstorm Ideas

Once you have a clear understanding of your target audience and the problem your book will solve, it's time to start brainstorming ideas. If you already know what your book is about, this is the time to think about how to structure your book and what to include in it. 

If you're still not sure what your book is about, this is the time to explore different possibilities.

When brainstorming ideas, it's important not to hold back. Write down everything that comes to mind, even if it doesn't seem like a good fit at first. 

To help generate ideas, try brainstorming with a group of people, whether it's friends, family or other nonfiction writers. They may have insights you haven’t considered and the exchange of thoughts can be very productive. Also, you could explore other books in your niche and look for inspiration, or research the latest trends and best practices in your niche.

Ultimately, don't be afraid to experiment and try out different things. Brainstorming is a creative process and the more ideas you have to work with, the better your final book will be.

Research

After brainstorming ideas, it's time to dive into research. Research is the best way to truly understand what your book should talk about.

If you find that no one has written about your topic before, it might be a sign that the topic may not be as helpful as you think. So, it's important to be open to the possibility of changing the topic or pivoting in a different direction.

The research process should involve looking through a variety of sources such as books written by others, online articles, podcasts and YouTube videos, interviews, and anything else that may be relevant to your topic. This will give you a good idea of what to cover, but also what gaps in knowledge still exist.

As you research, make sure to gather all unique pieces of data into your notes. Organize the information by topic or subtopic, and make sure to include the source of each piece of information. This will be useful later when you're writing your book and need to cite your sources or refer back to specific information.

Research is a crucial step in the book-writing process, and the more time you spend doing it, the more valuable your book will be. 

It will help you to understand your topic more deeply and help you to better serve your readers. Remember, research is not just to back your claims but to improve the credibility of your book.

Use Nonfiction Story Structures

We often talk about story structure when it comes to fiction, but nonfiction books can benefit from using story structures as well. There are many different types of nonfiction story structures you can use, but here are a few examples to get you started.

  • Manipulating Time: With this structure, your story starts in the middle, and shows how you got there in flashback-type sequences. This is great if you're using your own story or something from one of your clients. It allows you to show how your protagonist got to where they are, using the principles you outlined in the book.
  • Hook, Story, Offer: This is a great framework from Russell Brunson that I like to use. It consists of three different steps: Hook, which is the thing that gets your readers interested; Story, which is the thing that connects your readers with the emotional truths you're trying to convey; and Offer, where you present the solution to the problem you outlined in your story.
  • Circular Structure: Similar to manipulating time, this structure starts at the end, and shows how you got there.
  • Parallel Structure: With this structure, you might have two or more stories that you are weaving together. They might seem separate at first, but you tie them together by the end. This is a great way of interweaving your personal story with the principles in your nonfiction book.

Using nonfiction story structures can be a great way to engage your readers and make your book more compelling. By using one of these structures, you can help your readers understand and connect with the information you're presenting in a more meaningful way.

Put it All Together

Once you have your structure in place and your notes organized, it's time to weave it all together into something coherent. 

This can be a challenging step, as you'll need to take all the information you've gathered and figure out how to present it in a logical and easy-to-understand way. 

It's important to be selective with the information you include, as you'll likely have more than you can include in your book. This means that some things may need to be left out, as hard as that may be.

Once you have that all fleshed out and ready to go, it’s time to move on to the next step…

Chapter 3

Part 3: Write the Book

Writing a book is the single most important step on this list, and often the hardest. So I’ve assembled a few tips to get you started.

Determine the Best Writing Software

Choose the best book writing software for individual project, consider software like Atticus, Scrivener, Ulysses and Microsoft word or Google Docs.

Atticus

What Can Atticus Do

Atticus is the best book writing software for overall capability, including tracking software and formatting. It costs $147 as a one-time fee and works on multiple platforms. 

It is our #1 recommendation for authors who want to write and format books of any kind!

Scrivener

Scrivener is the next best option for organization and customization, but it has a steep learning curve and costs $49 (one-time) for Mac or Windows. $19.99 for iOS devices and reduced pricing of $41.65 is available for “students & academics”.

Use Kindlepreneur’s unique discount code (KINDLEPRENEUR) to get 20% OFF your purchase.

Ulysses

Ulysses is a customizable and sleek book writing software that syncs automatically and has a drag-and-drop functionality, but only works on Apple products and costs $5.99/month or $49.99/year, but with a free 2-week trial. 

Microsoft Word

Microsoft Word is industry standard for word processing, but not ideal for novel writing, often used because of its ubiquity, but it is cumbersome for writing a book, and costs $139.99 as a one-time purchase or $6.99/month for a Microsoft 365 subscription.

Write the Book Fast

When it comes to nonfiction and fiction alike, I firmly believe that getting the book out as fast as possible is the best way to go. Writing fast allows you to get the first draft on the table and start the editing process. 

Important: The goal at this stage is not to create a perfect product, but simply to get the words down so you can work with them later.

One of the main advantages of writing quickly is that it helps to overcome writer's block and other forms of procrastination. When you're not focusing on making everything perfect, it's easier to simply get words down on the page. 

It's also useful to remember that the first draft is not meant to be perfect, it's meant to be a starting point, it's where you will put down the ideas that you want to explore further, and decide which direction you want to take.

Some quick tips to write fast include

  • Set good goals
  • Work in manageable chunks
  • Develop writing habits
  • Right at the same time everyday
  • Use a timer
  • Try dictation

We have a whole list of other ways to write faster in this article.

Use Storytelling

Storytelling is often seen as something that is only relevant to fiction writing, but it's equally important in nonfiction. Stories allow you to draw readers in and make them emotionally connected with your subject matter.

There are many ways to incorporate stories into your nonfiction book. You can mine stories from your own life, the lives of your clients, history, or even current events. 

The key is to find stories that are relevant to the topic of your book and that will help to illustrate the points you're trying to make.

Keep the Writing Simple

For nonfiction, it's important to keep the language simple and easy to understand. Unless you are speaking to a highly educated audience, this will almost always be the case. 

This is because nonfiction books often have the goal of conveying information to a wide audience, which means that the language must be accessible to a general reader.

Using simple and easy-to-understand language not only makes your book more accessible to a wider audience, but it also makes it more likely that your readers will retain the information you're trying to convey. 

Avoid using jargon and technical terms that might not be familiar to your general audience. Instead, explain them in simple terms or provide definitions. 

The more complex your topic, the more you want to be able to explain that topic in simple terms.

Chapter 4

Part 4: Edit the Book

Editing the book is when you take that rough product and polish it. It’s an important step that should be done with care.

Self-edit the Book

Let's be honest, self-editing is not everyone's favorite part of the writing process. However, it is an important step that should not be overlooked. Before you send your work to beta readers or an editor, it's a good idea to have at least one self-edit. 

This will give you an opportunity to catch any errors and make sure your ideas flow well, your arguments are tight and the book feels coherent.

The key is to approach self-editing with an open mind and a critical eye. Take the time to read through your work carefully and consider whether each sentence and paragraph adds value to the book. Look for ways to tighten up the writing, eliminate redundancy and make sure that the book is clear and easy to understand. 

Fact Check Everything

In today's age of misinformation, fact checking is more important than ever. It's crucial that the information in your nonfiction book is accurate and reliable, otherwise it risks losing credibility with your readers. 

The good news is that if you did your research well, and documented everything, this step will be greatly simplified. You should have sources and citations to back up every claim you make in your book. 

By double-checking these sources and making sure that the information is still accurate, you'll ensure that your book is reliable and trustworthy.

Send to Editors

After you've given your manuscript a thorough self-edit, it's time to send it to an editor. An editor is one of your most important resources when it comes to producing a polished and professional book. 

They can provide valuable feedback and make suggestions that will help to improve the overall quality of your manuscript.

It's important to keep in mind that editing can be one of the more expensive parts of the book writing process. However, investing in an editor's expertise is well worth the effort. 

An editor can help you to turn your manuscript into a polished and professional book that will stand out among the competition.

Send to Beta Readers

Once you have a decent product, it's time to send it out to beta readers. Beta readers are a valuable resource that can help you to identify problems you might not have thought of. 

Beta readers can also help you to understand if the stories you used in your manuscript worked and if any of them were confusing. They will give you an idea of how the general audience might receive your work. They can point out if certain parts of the manuscript are too complex or if certain sections don't flow well.

This feedback is essential to help you to make necessary adjustments before your book is ready for publication.

Chapter 5

Part 5: Publish & Market Your Book

Writing the book is just part of the process. With any book, but especially with nonfiction books, publishing and marketing is crucial.

Research Your Title and Subtitle

When it comes to writing a nonfiction book, finding the right title and subtitle is crucial. This is because a well-crafted title and subtitle can help to attract readers and increase the visibility of your book.

One effective way to determine your title and subtitle is by doing keyword research.

Keyword research can be done by extensively crawling through Amazon's listings. This can help you to understand what people are searching for, and what kind of titles and subtitles are most effective. 

Pro Tip: The key is to figure out what people are searching for, and use this information to choose a title and subtitle that will resonate with your target audience.

Unfortunately, manual searches can be tedious when done manually. However, there's a tool out there called Publisher Rocket that will automate this process and make it faster and easier. 

This tool can help you to analyze your competition, uncover the best keywords, and optimize your title and subtitle for maximum visibility.

Publish Your Nonfiction Book

After all the hard work of researching, writing, editing and fact-checking, it's finally time to publish your book. It can be a daunting process, but with the right guidance, it can be done seamlessly. 

If you're planning to publish your book on Amazon, we have an article that can be extremely helpful. 

It provides an in-depth guide on how to publish your book on Amazon, detailing the different options and services available, and how to use them.

Market Your Book to Your Audience

When you publish your book, make sure you format your book correctly, nail your back cover blurb, have a stellar book cover (traditional publishers will usually pay for this), and properly organize the front matter and back matter.

Hopefully, you know that you have to start marketing your book long before it hits shelves and the online marketplace.

Here are some articles you can read to learn more about book marketing:



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