These are the staples of the non-fiction market. Publishers always welcome fresh ideas and good writers with new takes on a subject. How-to books must present a new idea at the right time. They must be innovative. They must be written by a writer with an established audience and a strong social media following who is either an expert or a celebrity. The author should have a promotable personality. They need to have a strong idea, an engaging voice and good timing. People want to know, but they don’t always want to learn. So your job is to make learning engaging and readable.
- Present your information in a visually appealing manner.
- Allow your personality to shine through.
- Give your readers things to do along the way.
- Include jokes, cartoons, anecdotes, and tips to make the read fun and to engage the reader.
- Supplement text with illustrations.
- If your book is about teaching a skill, do it in a clear, concise step-by-step fashion.
- Use a down-to-earth, you-to-me tone. The best how-to books have a distinctive and amusing tone.
Tips for submitting your book
Remember that editors want a viable idea, an established market, and a credible writer with marketing experience.
Book proposals are used to sell non-fiction book ideas. A query letter is not enough. As with most non-fiction books, you will have to market your book. You do this by compiling a proposal that contains a covering page, a table of contents, a chapter-by-chapter outline, information on why your book is marketable, and information about yourself. Remember that most non-fiction books are 40 000 - 50 000 words. Make sure your proposal reflects this.
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© Amanda Patterson
Amanda is the founder of Writers Write. Her signature course, Writers Write, specializes in the teaching of fiction writing.
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