What does it take to write a nonfiction book you might well ask? The answer is simple. Hard work, tireless devotion and a willingness to be aggravated and aggravated often are just par for the course.

It’s no joke. When you decide to take on a project of any size and a full book is like taking on fifty short articles all at once, you need to be sure to categorize things correctly and logically.

You need to be willing to take on that nagging feeling that you’ve forgotten something. Perhaps a fact or two or several dozen don’t seem right to you and you find yourself needing to go back and double and triple check them. Why? Because the first fact your reader reads and knows to be wrong will put them off so bad they’ll go running in the opposite direction so fast you’d think they were taking off the ground with the speed of a 787. Worse yet, they’ll spread the word and you’ll find yourself with a book holding the record for least sold.

Nonfiction means real and by the time you finish writing the book and marketing it, people will think that you know your topic inside and out. You won’t but you’ll need to be ready for an answer that sounds good for any question asked. Even though everything is true you’ll still find yourself asked the age old question, “Where do you get your ideas/inspiration?” You’ll need to find a way to answer this even if it’s just what brought the subject to your attention in the first place.

Writing nonfiction means taking on a full time job of research. No stone can be left unturned because no one writes a complete picture of an event or person’s life. You have only to read the daily paper and follow one event for several days to understand this wrinkle in thought completely. One day the reporter will give you bare facts. The next day they rehash only part of it and give nothing new. The third day it’s forgotten and perhaps a week or two later they might give you the beginning with a new fact or two.

As a researcher we writers have to follow along and connect the dots. If they don’t tell us something vital and we are able to find out from a different source, we do it. For example, the paper told of men killed by Carbon Monoxide but they didn’t tell us what the gas could do to the body. As a smart and fledgling author who wants to teach as well as warn their readers, you must look up the gas and add that to what the paper tells you. Doing this all the time will add character to your book and help the reader to better understand the situation.

So again you ask, “What does it take to be a nonfiction writer?” It takes guts, hard work and nonstop thinking. It takes writing down the facts given and searching for what’s only implied. It means being an investigator, a psychologist, a journalist and a human being. In school we thought being a writer was easy. As Leave it to Beaver said, “All ya gotta do is make stuff up.” That’s not always the case. It can be fun but never forget that you owe something to your audience of readers. If you’re writing nonfiction, you owe them the truth!

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