How to write a very readable nonfiction book for an under 35 audience?
November 12, 2012 5:52 AM   Subscribe

I am interested in writing a non-fiction book or two (possibly ebooks) in a proven popular style. Where can I find resources, reviews, interviews, commentaries about choosing book structures, layout, language, tone and content that appeal to an aspirational audience?

I don't expect this to be extremely popular. There are a few groups of people I have access to that I would want to promote it to mostly to assist them. But I do want it to be very readable, attention-holding and informative like say, Nassim Taleb's Black Swan and similar books were. The target audience might be youngish people (18-35) considering whether to move into self-employment. Interviews, lessons, observations would be the main content.

Also open to any info about how a successful nonfiction author went about starting and then developing the book over time. Thanks.
posted by vizsla to Writing & Language (3 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Rather than looking for books that tell you HOW to write a book like this, I think you'd have more luck looking at books that actually do it, and examine what it is that makes them work so well. There are likely a lot more examples of the second than there are of the first.
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 6:30 AM on November 12, 2012

I actually started a whole other answer about how I wasn't getting a sense what your topic even was, but now I note that "the target audience might be youngish people (18-35) considering whether to move into self-employment". So I'm assuming "self-employment" would be the topic.

But it still seems awfully telling that I had to read your question over a few times to get that from what you wrote; it gives me the impression that maybe you don't have a clear enough idea yourself of what, in detail, the topic of your book is going to be - yes, "whether to move into self-employment" is the topic in general, but what about that? Is it advice? How-to's? Reflections on the question from people who did and didn't?

I get the sense that you're thinking about structure more than you are content, and that's backwards; rather, I'd spend some time thinking in depth about what it is exactly you are trying to say that is different from the scores of other books on the topic. What is it about this issue that you want to tell people exactly? What about the decision to work for one's self do you want to examine?

I'd really, really think about that. Once you have a really solid lock on what it is you want to say, in detail, questions about the structure, layout, language, tone, etc. will suggest themselves.

Good luck.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:32 AM on November 12, 2012

I write non-fiction for a living.

I'd let content guide you here. A book that has more how-to information is going to demand a different structure than one that weaves lessons into a narrative and lets people decide for themselves. Start reading widely and see what kinds of structures you like and find effective. Also, start writing and try a bunch of different things and see what sticks. Sorry, it sounds complicated and time-consuming because it is.
posted by mynameisluka at 7:34 AM on November 12, 2012

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