Key Steps to Writing Your Non-Fiction Book – Part IV

Hello and welcome back to my non-fiction blog series! It’s been my aim with these past few posts to supply you with the tools necessary to write a book that is engaging, entertaining, unique, and last but not least, useful.

That last adjective is what we’re going to focus on today. Over the last three weeks, I hope you’ve established your book’s tagline (a.k.a. “hook” or “subtitle,”), what makes it stand out, and who its target audience is. Now it’s time for you to flesh out Step #4 by asking yourself this question:

What Are the Benefits?

Non-fiction books that fall flat are those that focus too much on the author’s personal experience instead of the helpful content he or she has to offer. When people go online and start googling, they’re not typing in “What was Diana Anderson-Tyler’s experience with anorexia” into the search bar. They’re typing in phrases like, “How to overcome eating disorders,” and “How to recover from anorexia.” They’re looking for answers.

Granted, sharing personal experiences and stories is a wonderful and effective way to endear yourself to readers by being vulnerable with them and winning their trust. We all feel more inclined to listen to someone when we feel they can relate to and empathize with us. This goes back to Step #2 in which you explored why you’re the best person to write your book. But generally, unless you’re a celebrity, readers don’t buy non-fiction books just because you’ve led an extraordinarily sad, successful, or adventurous life. They buy them because they trust they contain content that’s both powerful and practical, refreshing and relevant.

Nonfiction Tips by Diana Anderson-Tyler

What are the takeaways you plan to provide in your book? If you’re writing about starting your own Etsy store, what will your readers be taught and encouraged to do to ensure their own success? What tips and tricks will you give them that will make their purchase of your book worth every cent?  If you’re writing about virtual reality, how will you communicate its direct effects on readers, on industry and commerce, and/or the moral landscape of the coming decades? Will they be led to embrace or avoid it?

Your homework this week is to make a bulleted list of benefits for your book. Think like a reader and come up with specific questions surrounding your main topic as well as your subtopics (chapters). Then take time to thoughtfully and thoroughly answer those questions, including personal info and anecdotes only when they help to illustrate a point or tell an inspirational, humorous (we all love a good laugh!), or cautionary tale. But keep this exercise focused on the “B” word – benefits. If you’re having trouble with what I mean by benefits, just check out your favorite non-fiction book on Amazon or peruse its back cover if you have a hard copy. Most books these days bear their main benefits in their descriptions.

Here are the benefits of a popular book about Etsy, which I just found out about after a brief Amazon search!

Exact Steps how to build your own ETSY Store.

· Everything you need to do before you open your ESTY [sic] Store.

· Mistakes you can make and how to avoid them.

· How to select the perfect ESTY [sic] store name.

· How to list your products properly so they sell the fastest.

· Discover how to find out what is trending in the handmade and vintage world and how you can be a part of that.

· Find out the best way to optimize your Etsy page so that it will come up at the top of a search engine and people will click on your product over another.

· Read the secrets to getting to the front page and how best to use forums and teams to create a lasting brand that will keep customers coming back again and again.

· Promote yourself for free with several social media platforms that are especially catered to Etsy users.

When you’re making your bullet points, try to use action verbs such as “discover,” “learn,” “find out,” “reveal,” “enhance,” “unleash,” “master,” and “strengthen,” as these are dynamic hooks that pique readers’ interest and draw them in, appealing to their desire to excel, improve, or overcome in some area of their lives. If your book is more of a how-to, then, obviously, it would behoove you to place the word “How” at the beginning of most, if not all, of your listed benefits.

Not only will each of your book’s unique benefits act as guideposts during your writing process, they’ll eventually serve as selling points as well. Potential readers make split-second decisions on whether to buy or pass on a book simply based on what their eyes catch on the front and back covers (on online bookstores, back cover-copy is often displayed in books’ descriptions); this should be motivation enough to take this step seriously!

I hope you’ve found this week’s post helpful! If you’d like for me to take a look at your book’s benefits, or any section of your non-fiction project thus far, don’t hesitate to contact me! Leave a comment below or tweet me at @dandersontyler!

Diana Anderson-Tyler writing blog

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