My first ambitious attempt at nonfiction emerged when, as a stranded 11-year-old, I lived temporarily with my aged Manx grandmother, a good Christian woman of wide girth and narrow attitudes. Confined to quiet pursuits one Sunday afternoon, and armed with sheaths of paper, I composed the inaugural edition of ‘The Isle of Man Harold’ [sic].
The front page carried an ‘all’s well that ends well’ story of an elaborate wedding postponed at the last minute because the vicar fell ill; the happy couple enjoying their honeymoon in the Bahamas, and planning to marry when the poor vicar recovered. Unfortunately, Granny spotted this awful lapse in moral judgement and my fledgling journalism was throttled by censorship.
How times have changed. Our only inhibitions in writing, now, are self-inflicted. Have you ever thought of writing a nonfiction book? You can – here are ten good reasons for doing so:
1. Share with others your passion for a particular subject: you’d be surprised how many people are inspired and entertained by your favourite topic; look at the rack upon rack of special interest and hobby magazines in newsagents – the people who buy them are your potential readers, too. Pets, sport, craft, food, fitness – the field is wide open.
2. Compile a personal account for family, friends and posterity: memories and the wisdom of our elders are precious, and too easily lost, leaving young people feeling rootless. Don’t wait until it’s ‘too late’ to ask Grandpa.
3. Correct the record of events or issues with new facts or insights: misinformation, bias, or simply lack of knowledge is everywhere; if you can access new evidence, or offer fresh perspectives, you could broaden understanding and set the picture straight.
4. Enable others to benefit from your special experience: emigrating, gardening, travelling, applying specific skills, coping with personal crises – whatever your adventures or personal challenges, sharing the know-how may help and encourage readers.
5. Disseminate a message you feel is of wide and urgent public interest: topics like health, the environment, and social and economic policies, are of concern to large numbers of people. You could provide fresh insights as a counterweight to the vested interests of spin doctors. Nonfiction is a powerful tool for advocacy.
6. Increase your professional credibility in a subject to further your career: as an author, you become an authority, whether on science, history, art, engineering, medicine or any other branch of learning. And not only by writing text books: general readers take an interest in these fields, too. If you are a performing artist, the potential for ‘insider’ stories and humour, for example, is huge.
7. Apply the book as a promotional and marketing tool to boost your business: there are many ways of increasing the credibility and visibility of your company through authoring a nonfiction book relevant to your sector, product, or skill set.
8. Support and publicise a charitable cause: a memoir, documentary or set of case studies are all possible ways of sharpening the profile, raising funds, or increasing volunteer participation, e.g. for disability groups, or the environment in your own country or elsewhere.
9. Generate income: the competition is tough, but it is easier to get published in nonfiction than fiction if you identify your slot in the market, and pitch a great idea with a well-written manuscript.
10.Enjoy the challenge and satisfaction of doing so: to write a well-crafted book is enormously rewarding; it leaves a heritage for others, and it will keep you out of mischief for a considerable time.
Whoever you are, wherever you live, why not make this the year you write your book? No excuses: I show you exactly how to plan, research, write, edit, publish and market your book step-by–step, in Writing Your Nonfiction Book: the complete guide to becoming an author. Take a look and see what you think. Or read this review from the writers’ and publishers’ ezine, Words with JAM
My other recent non-fiction books covering travel, memoir, history, and literature (sometimes all at once because real life is not divided into genre):