Writing Nonfiction

5 Mistakes New Authors Make

5 Mistakes New Authors Make


If you don’t know your way around the publishing world, you may make wrong turns and unnecessary blunders, but you can avoid them if you know in advance what they are. Here are 5 mistakes new authors make and to avoid them.

Mistake #1
You mention to people that you’re writing a book, and they become instantly fascinated. “You are? That’s terrific. What’s it about?” they ask. Can you answer that question in one sentence, or will you talk your listeners into a stupor while you explain your subject? Of course, you want to tell anyone who will listen all about your book—its content, its purpose, its potential for becoming a best seller. Resist the urge. The mistake many new authors make is talking about their books, rather than writing them. Capture your topic in a single sentence: “My book is about …” Then, stop talking, and go home and write.

Mistake #2
You proudly print out your manuscript and read what have written. Does it still make sense or have you rambled on or completely forgotten everything you ever learned about English grammar? The mistake many new authors make is assuming you only have to write your book once, that your first draft is your final draft. If you have showed your book to friends and family, and been showered with praise, you’re good to go … right? Well, Not quite.

Mistake #3
Even if you have been selective about those you asked for input, are any of those people professional editors or subject matter experts? Have they given you constructive comments on content, organization, accuracy, grammar, punctuation, consistency, length, or readability? Probably not. The mistake many new authors make is failing to hire a professional editor to review their work and provide objective, knowledgeable feedback.

Mistake #4
You are to ready publish, but you are torn between sending your book to a major New York publishing house or using one of the POD “publishers” on the Web. Do you have any idea how many unsolicited manuscripts big publishers receive every day, and how few they even glance at before they throw them into the “slush pile”? Do you know what POD “publishers” really do and how to evaluate the quality and costs of their services? The mistake many new authors make is not thoroughly researching publishing options in order to make educated decisions on how to publish.

Mistake #5
At last, you are holding your book in your hands. It’s tangible; it’s real. You are a published author. Now, all you need is sales. But there are a few things you should have done before you reached this point, such as identifying your ideal readers and the best way to reach them, writing a marketing plan, launching a website, and registering for social media sites. The mistakes many new authors make is waiting until their books are published to begin thinking about how to mount a successful marketing campaign.

These mistakes are avoidable once you are aware of them. The question is how to learn what not t do when you are a novice? There are many sources of such information: authors and publishers’ associations, more experience authors, books on the publishing process, and classes, among others. Take the time to ask questions, and don’t ignore you own common sense. If you question the wisdom of some activity, pay attention to your own doubts.


Bobbi Linkemer is a writing coach, ghostwriter, and editor, as well as the author of eighteen books, six of which are on writing. Her passion is helping writers at all levels convey their messages through books. She has launched a successful online course and guided twenty-four published authors through the steps of writing, publishing, and promoting their nonfiction books. Bobbi can be reached at WriteANonfictionBook.com, bobbi@writeanonfictionbook.com, or 314-968-8661. 


Understanding Your Audience - Writing a Successful Book

You love your book. You love everything about it. The subject matter suits your tastes, it's just the right length to capture and hold your attention and it's your book so you get it for free.

But your own feelings of your book are not what will make it stand out from the rest. After all, every other author out there who has written a book likes theirs just as much as you adore your own.

That is why it is extremely important to understand exactly what your potential audience is looking for in their next read. The infographic below by Hiptype will help you get a good grasp on the intricacies of your book's potential audience so they can love your work as much as you do.

Book DNA

Guidelines for Creating Great Book Titles and Subtitles

Many successful authors agree that the most important piece of book writing could very well be is the creation of your book title and subtitle. A great title will not sell a bad book, but a poor title can hide a good book from potential customers.

It's important to realize that both your title and subtitle must sell your book. Think of them as the hooks that get a potential buyer's attention. To help you create that great book title, here are a few guidelines you may wish to follow.

1. At the beginning of your book writing project, select a working title - one that you will most likely improve upon as you develop your book. Start with a short, catchy and descriptive title accompanied by a longer, explanatory subtitle.

2. Here's a great tip. Whenever possible, the first word of your title should be the same as your subject. The biggest benefit is it will make your book easier to find. For example, Bowkers Books-in-Print lists books by title, author and subject. If your book title and subject are the same, you have doubled your exposure.

3. There is, however, an exception to the first word rule. If you come up with a truly fantastic title - one that does not begin with your subject word - it is possible that you may sell so many more copies of your book because of your title, that how directories list your book may become unimportant.

4. Your subtitle can play an equally important role. Most book listings do not describe the contents of a book, so the role of you subtitle should be  to clearly explain what your book is about. Visit some bookstores and go online to check out other book subtitles. You'll find both good and bad examples, but the good ones will provide you with some models you can follow.

Remember, if your book title is not clear, potential buyers may not find your book because it has been mis-shelved. Or, they may not recognize it as being an important subject to them.

[This post was created, with permission, from exerpts taken from Writing Nonfiction, by Dan Poynter.]

The Importance of Your Back Cover

The back cover of your book can be the most important book promotion space you can find. Use it for your primary promotional message. To be successful, it should make promises and stress compelling benefits to the potential buyer. The following identifies some of the key elements that should comprise your book's back cover.

Category. Listing the category/subcategory on the back cover of your book will ensure that your book will be easy to find, because the bookshop personnel will place it on the right shelf, and the website that carries it will more likely position it in its proper place.

Headline. Create an arresting headline (do not repeat your title) that potential buyers can relate to and identify with the book.

Description. Concisely, in two to four sentences, state what your book is about. What will the reader gain by reading your book.

Bulleted promises or benefits. Promise to make readers better at what they do. Pledge health, wealth or a better life. Focus on who your audience is and what that particular group wants.

Testimonials. Testimonials, forewords, endorsements and quotations sell books because word of mouth is one of the most powerful forces in marketing. 

Author bio. Show that you are the ultimate authority on the subject. Just two or three sentences will do. Remember though, you have the opportunity to write a whole page about yourself in the front matter of your book.

Closing copy. End with a sales closer in bold type. Ask the browser to buy your book. Use something like "This book has enabled thousands to...and it will show you the way too."

Before you start writing the text for your back cover, a great idea is to visit a bookstore and look at the back covers of many books. You'll not only see how different authors treat their back cover, but also how they position the information they present.

[This post was created, with permission, from excerpts taken from Writing Nonfiction by Dan Poynter.]

How a Book Coach Can Help You Write Your Nonfiction Book

By Bobbi Linkemer

Hiring a book coach can be a great decision. Here are just some of things a book coach can do for the nonfiction author.

1. A book coach is a teacher, partner and personal cheerleader. Support and guidance are two of the secret ingredients of book writing success, and a coach will help you stay focused and confident.

2. A book coach guides you through every step of the process. This includes planning, research, writing, editing, publishing and promotion.

3. A book coach asks all the right questions during the planning phase. Things like what is the subject of your book? Your target audience? What are your qualifications? How will your book be different? And better? How much control do you want over the publishing process? How will you promote your book?

4. A book coach helps you set realistic goals and create a schedule for meeting them. Writing a book is a long-term project, but certainly not one that should drag on forever. A coach will help you set achievable goals to mark your progress, make them measureable and include firm completion dates.

5. A book coach works with you on polishing your manuscript. Regular feedback during the writing process will not only keep you on track, it will also ensure that your book follows your plan from start to finish.

6. A book coach clarifies available publishing options. You may dream about working with a large New York publisher but, if that is not possible, a coach can make you aware of other viable options such as print-on-demand, working with a small independent publisher focused on your niche market, or self-publishing.

7. A book coach helps you promote your book before and after it is published. Much, if not all, of the marketing and promotion of your book is going to be your responsibility, and you will need all the help you can get to be successful.

Writing a book for the first time can be a daunting challenge.  A book coach will help demistify the process and act as a guide through this uncharted territory.

[Bobbi Linkemer is a book coach, ghostwriter, editor and author of 17 books. Her clients include Fortune 100 companies, entrepreneurs and individuals. To visit her website, go to http://www.WriteANonfictionBook.com.]

7 Ways to Research Your Nonfiction Book

By Bobbi Linkemer

If you plan on writing a nonfiction book, chances are you will have to do some research. Here are seven of the most effective ways to go about researching a book.

1. Interviews. There are three rules to effective interviewing. The first rule is to find an expert. The second is to use every listening skill you have. The third rule is to continue to build your understanding and knowledge base with every question and every person you talk to.

2. Library research rooms. Your best friend should be the research librarian and your local library. They can point you to the precise reference books you need. Even with online sites, 90 percent of research is done through libraries' full-text databases.

3. University & specialized libraries. If you haven't visited one, do it just for your general reference, if not for a specific subject.

4. Books on your subject area. Chances are if you have an idea, someone else has had it also - and has probably written about it. This doesn't mean you should abandon your idea; it simply means you must tackle it in a different way. Bookstores, libraries and online sites can be great resources for other books on your subject.

5. Corporations and business publications. To learn about specific industries, start collecting corporate annual reports. Look up relevant magazine and newspaper articles. Check out business publications and related TV channels. All can be great resources.

6 Government agencies. Government agencies produce tons of literature. Much of it is free and is there for the asking. You can start by visiting www.lib.lsu.edu/gov/tree.

7. The internet. In today's world, the World Wide Web is an unlimited source of material. The secret of researching on the web is knowing how to use search engines. Look up researching online at www.marin.cc.ca.us/adair/workshop.html.  

[Bobbi Linkemer is a book coach, ghostwriter, editor and author of 17 books. Her clients include Fortune 100 companies, entrepreneurs and individuals. To visit her website, go to http://www.WriteANonfictionBook.com.]