Often, this blog is dedicated to writing fiction. This week, we’re going to look at writing nonfiction – specifically, books that are designed to showcase the author’s expertise and knowledge in a specific industry.
Inexperienced writers think it’s easy. It’s no different to writing an autobiography – after all, all the material is there. Just spill it out onto the page, and that’s it. Perfect. Ready for some lucky reader to digest.
As somebody who has written for over thirty years, and who’s worked obsessively to get things as good as possible before submitting them anywhere, this belief infuriates me. I don’t say this to bignote myself. But too many people have the preconception that writing – any writing – is just a dump (and you can take that colloquially).
No other vocation is treated with this dismissiveness. I don’t waltz into surgical theatres and announce that I’m ready to perform brain surgery, because I’ve had an idea about doing a brain surgery for the last ten years. I don’t suggest that I could stroll onto centre court at Wimbledon and take on Roger Federer, because I can visualise myself as a great tennis player.
These – and other vocations – are skillsets that take time, practice, and experience to develop. Writing is a craft. It frustrates me that some writers can be so haphazard with their form. Actually, it not only frustrates me, but I hate that some writers believe that the nucleus of their idea is so brilliant, that it’ll wow every reader into ignoring things like prose, structure, grammar, spelling, punctuation, and everything else that goes into writing.
I would hesitate to see a professional whose book was slipshod. Why would I value their expertise if their book is terrible? If you’re a plumber, and your book lacks clarity and is full of errors, why would I trust you? If you can’t take care with your book, why would I believe you would in your chosen speciality?
Obviously, in these cases these professionals may not be aspiring authors. They may want a book as part of branding. They may want it to showcase their expertise. And that’s fine. But care has to be infused into the product, as well as the efforts that go into the writing. This intimidates some because they don’t have any background that relates to writing.
But that’s where a simple thing called learning kicks in. You wouldn’t decide to work on your car’s engine without first learning something about it. Sure, you could go in and experiment, but success is unlikely. You’d probably just ruin the car. Then where do you go? Figuratively and literally?
There are practices that writers can learn. A simple question to ask yourself is, In one or two simple sentences, what is my book about? If your answer turns into a rambling discourse and your audience begins yawning, you don’t know yourself what your book is about. You’re trying to find the way yourself – and that’s fine, but as preparation. When you sit down to write, you should have a good idea what you’re going to write about. In fiction, you can feel your way. In this sort of nonfiction, you need to know.
This is one of the primary reasons we’re running our Book-Writing Boot Camp, a two-day workshop in October. Now you might be thinking, Well, here was the point of this blog – here’s the hard sell. Well, I would be lying if I didn’t admit to an element of that. But a bigger part of the truth is that we care about the book you want to write.
There are others out there who don’t. They’ll tell you they do. They’ll flatter you and seduce you with sweet whispers of how the market needs your book, how what you have to say needs to be out in the world, how this can lead to greater fame and fortune. Well, you know what? (And this comes from somebody who subcontracted for such places in the past.) They’re full of shit. They’ll tell you what you want to hear because they want your money. Watch how many of these places will be open and friendly before you’ve paid any money, and how they’re unreachable once they have it.
Another issue is that lots of these people have little-to-no-idea about how writing – and publishing – works. They may understand on a superficial level – enough to help you produce a book. But that’s really just about achieving their objective: getting your money and giving you a product. They don’t care about that product. They don’t care about its quality. They’re fast food vendors: in, out, next!
We care here. We care because we’ve seen authors burned and gouged of hard-earned savings, we’ve seen people manipulated and lied to, and – as artists ourselves – we hate it. We hate that people can be treated like that. We hate that people are going in with good intentions and being screwed into spending thousands upon thousands of dollars on things they don’t need and exorbitant print runs, while also surrendering royalties and rights that should be rightfully theirs if they’re self-publishing.
At Busybird Publishing, we’ve always been about wanting to help you tell the story only you can. We want to try and help you find it. We want to arm you with as many tools as we can – and fast-track your development as a writer – so you can do justice to whatever vision you’re nurturing. And, at the end of it all, we want you to walk away happy, content, and educated, and proud of what you’ve done.
Give it a thought if you want to tackle the prospect of writing a book.
You have a message only you can share.
Let us help you.