Selling Your Opinion

After perusing several nonfiction books recently, I realized that authors are pitching opinions. So, as a nonfiction author, it’s your job to convince editors–and by extension, readers–why anyone should care about your advice over the wisdom of competing authors.

Education: Have you completed schooling that contributes to your knowledge? If I want a book on Ancient Egypt, I’ll choose one written by someone with appropriate education over someone who does not.

One pitfall that can stymie educated people is esoteric writing. As a reader, I seek knowledge; but I want that knowledge presented in a sparkling way. Even if you’re writing a textbook, set out to engage your reader as much as you can. You may say, “I can’t make complex calculations interesting.” Why not? At least try. The difference between an engaging and a dry textbook could cause students to be on fire for your topic, rather than sweating through the college course they’re forced to take before they can move on to something more interesting. Wouldn’t you love knowing your book motivated students to choose your field of expertise as their life’s work?

Experience: Do you have experience in your topic? For example, a mother of ten is likely to be able to impart how to be successful in rearing children with different personalities–assuming she ever has time to write a book! The author with experience would do well to garner endorsements from experts in their field to lend additional authority.

Peers: Endorsers can help convince readers you know that you’re an expert. If you write a book on caring for infants and five pediatricians vouch for you, that will help convince readers you can be trusted. A powerful endorsement will help seal the deal. An endorsement won’t sell an inferior book, however.

Value: You know a lot, but do you know how to choose what information to include and what to throw out? Readers want to get to the point of the book and want to take information easily and quickly, even when the topic is dense. The author who can make a dreary topic appealing and helpful to the reader will engage the editor–and readers–for many years.

Your turn:

What did I miss?

Other than the Bible, what is the best nonfiction book you’ve read lately?

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