7 common questions from first-time non-fiction authors

I have been a writing coach for a decade and as much as I have worked with a wide range of topics and unique brilliant people, there is definitely a common thread of questions from first-time authors. I have unpacked them here for you, but if you ever have a specific question you’d like me to address, please send it along.

What should my book be about?

Identifying a specific topic for your book can be challenging, but it’s essential to narrow your focus to something that you are passionate about and knowledgeable enough to write about. Consider what topics or issues you care deeply about or what problems you want to solve. What breaks your heart? Research your topic and identify gaps in the existing literature and think about how your book can fill those gaps or offer a unique perspective. Ultimately, your book should be about something that you feel strongly about and that you think will resonate with readers.

Who is my target audience?

Defining your target audience is crucial for reaching the right readers and ensuring that your book resonates with them. Think about the demographics, interests, and values of the people who are likely to be interested in your topic and then write your book in a way they can see themselves within the pages. Consider how your book can help or entertain them and tailor your writing and marketing efforts towards them. Knowing your target audience will also help you choose the right language, tone, and style for your book.

How should I structure my book?

Choosing the right structure for your book is essential to ensure that your material is organized in a logical and compelling way. Consider the best way to present your information, such as organizing by topic, chronology, or through case studies or stories. Choose a structure that makes the most sense for your topic and writing style. Keep in mind that the structure should help readers understand and engage with your ideas. Don’t’ have a rock-solid outline yet? Book an outlining session with me here.

How do I conduct research for my book?

Conducting research is essential for non-fiction authors who want to provide accurate and credible information in their book. Identify credible sources of information, such as academic journals, books, or primary sources. Take notes and keep track of your sources to ensure that you can cite them correctly. When incorporating your findings into your writing, make sure to synthesize and analyze the information in a way that is accessible and engaging for your readers. Also, please know how to quote research in your book and if you don’t ask an editor.

What is my writing voice?

Developing a unique and engaging writing voice is crucial for non-fiction authors just as it is for fiction writers. Your voice should be authentic, reflecting your personality and perspective, but also engaging and accessible to your readers. Consider your tone, pacing, and style, and experiment with different techniques to find the voice that feels most natural and effective for your writing. While AI is fun to play with lately, Chat GPT will never replace your unique voice.

How do I get published?

Getting published can be a challenge, but there are several routes you can take. Traditional publishing houses often require a literary agent, and the submission process can be lengthy and competitive. Self-publishing offers more control over the publishing process but requires more work and financial investment. Hybrid publishers offer a middle ground between the two, but it’s essential to research different options and choose the one that aligns with your goals and expectations. Here’s a great guide and assessment on which option is better for your book and career. Big Sky Author Services offers consulting on your traditional publishing book proposals and project management of self-publishing.

How do I promote my book?

Promoting your book is crucial for reaching readers and building a following. Develop a website, create a social media presence, write mainstream articles, and reach out to potential readers and reviewers to build buzz around your book. Consider hosting events or book signings, guest posting on blogs, or participating in online communities related to your topic. With a well-planned and executed promotion strategy, you can increase your book’s visibility and reach a wider audience.

As a writing coach, I have tackled all these questions and more for the better part of a decade. You don’t have to be on this journey alone. You can go from an idea to holding your book and I would be honored to help you.