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6 Mistakes To Avoid When Writing Non-Fiction

I’ve noticed a huge trend recently in people wanting to share their experiences in a book, especially business owners. It’s the PR tool that just keeps on giving, cementing you as a thought leader, raising your profile, and allowing you to add that much sought-after title of author to your Linked In page. (If you want to know the reasons I think every entrepreneur should write a book, then check out this post here).

Non-fiction covers a wide span of genres including history, biographies, guides and how-to manuals, self-help, memoirs, academic texts and so on. However, the writing principles are the same. In this blog post, I’m sharing the most common mistakes new writers make with non-fiction.

1. Not telling an actual story

The story-telling arc is not just limited to novels - non-fiction books rely heavily on story-telling elements in order to keep the reader engaged, otherwise your book is simply a collection of facts and/or opinions.

ACTION: Understand the 5 elements of story-telling and weave your own story throughout.

2. Not knowing your audience

When thinking about the information you want to include in your book, keep the reader in mind.How can you help, benefit, or educate them? How can you add value to their reading experience?

ACTION: Create a persona of your ideal reader and then research their pain points and challenges.

3. Giving the reader too much information

A general rule of thumb is to tell the reader what they need to know, NOT what YOU know. Be selective with your knowledge, curating it in a way that your reader doesn’t feel overwhelmed.

ACTION: In the planning stages, list the key points you want to include in each chapter and stay on point. A good editor will also be useful to help keep your writing concise.

4. Not planning your structure

Just like novels, taking the time to plan the structure of your book will pay dividends when it comes to the actual writing. By planning your structure in advance, you will be able to map out the journey you want to take the reader on. A structure will also act as your guide throughout the writing process, helping you avoid writer’s block.

ACTION: Knowing the beginning, the middle, and the end sections of your book is a great start and will help you organise your thoughts. Check out my post on how to do this here.

5. Not understanding your point of difference.

The publication of non-fiction books is very competitive so whatever topic you’re writing about, you need to understand what your point of difference is. How will your book differ from the thousands of others and why should the reader pick your book off the shelf?

ACTION: Do your research. Go to Amazon and type in the search bar the topic of your book and see what other titles come up.

6. Failing to understand your why

Writing a book is a serious undertaking in terms of time, and often money. There will be instances where you don’t feel like writing, but knowing why you’re writing a book will help with discipline when your motivation is waning.



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I'm Karen, a best-selling novelist who left her corporate life to pursue my dream of becoming a writer. Since then, I've written everything from travel articles to web copy before winning a novel writing competition which led to a 3-book deal. 


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