Structuring the Non-Fiction Book

How should you structure your non-fiction book?

According to Wikipedia, “Form follows function is a principle associated with 20th-century modernist architecture and industrial design which says that the shape of a building or object should primarily relate to its intended function or purpose.”

It is a concept that can also apply to the layout of a non-fiction book.

Many people write a book to provide a guide to others about a topic, or convince others they are right (there’s a lot of that going around!), or reflect on their lives. A non-fiction writer generally has some type of thesis … whether defined or not.

Back to Wikipedia: “A thesis statement usually appears at the middle or end[1] of the introductory paragraph of a paper, and it offers a concise summary of the main point or claim of the essay, research paper, etc. It is usually expressed in one sentence, and the statement may be reiterated elsewhere.”

If you are in the process of writing your non-fiction book, take a few minutes and write out your thesis for the book. Can’t do it? Then your book may be meandering around searching for itself. Now’s the time to take a walk, a nap, meditate, or do the chores you’ve been putting off. Let your subconscious work. Then come back and try again. It doesn’t have to be perfect … it just has to BE.

Your thesis is your macro-level definition of your book. Below it you have your arguments which can each be broken down into smaller and smaller bites. The bottom of this pyramid represents the micro-level of your book.

Ideally, a book should either start at a macro-level and lay out the arguments, or lay out the arguments to draw the reader to the same conclusion you have already reached. Either works. It depends on what you want to do … your function dictates your form.

Further Reading

When I wrote my first tech book, Exploring IBM E-Business Software, I relied heavily on Nonfiction Book Proposals Anybody Can Write by Elizabeth Lyon.  I recommend reading it before tacking your next non-fiction book.

I’d love to be part of your writing journey in 2020. Shoot me an email if you’d like to discuss your next project.

Finishing Your Book

There is a statistic floating around, although I don’t know how reliable it is, that 80% of Americans intend to write a book. Even with the tens of thousands of books that come out a …

Deep Point of View in Writing Fiction

To write fiction that grabs the reader and keeps them engaged from page one to the end, you have to learn how to write deep point of view (POV). For some people that grew up reading Nancy Drew and the like, that can be difficult.

Maybe you remember Tom Swifties. They were clever. Some …

Formatting Your Book

Everything matters.

That is particularly true when you are creating a print book. Every decision you make affects the final look and feel of your book, the cost, the price you can set, and how …

Should You Give Your Book Away--Free Books

As many of you know, I write women’s fiction and romance. My next book, Finding Home (self-published), comes out the end of September. I have been and still am, a member of several online writing communities.

Periodically, there are discussions about the pros and cons of giving away books as part of the marketing …

Why Did You Write Your Book?

Depending on the statistic you find, writing a book is one of the top goals for some 80 to 90 percent of Americans. If you are reading this, you, too, have expressed this goal.

But why? You don’t have to determine why all those other people want to write a book, but you do need …

To Use Amazon KDP Select or Not? That Is the Question ...

(with apologies to the Bard.)

In 2017, Mark Coker, Smashwords owner, made ripples with one of his predictions: “The publishing industry will begin to recognize KDP Select as the cancer that it is.”

Not everyone agreed.

But still, as a self-published author, you need to decide whether or not to publish exclusively with …

Descriptions Do More than Describe in Fiction

Stormy Day Clark Fork 2013“It was a dark and stormy night …” That most cliched beginning to a novel is used to warn novice writers about the dangers of boring descriptions. …

e-book vs Print Book Formats

Understanding how e-books work can be difficult for many people who have grown up with print. I’ve added a new FAQ to help you understand.

Why does my formatted e-book look different from my formatted print book?

For people who are used to and understand print books, the e-book world can be confusing. Print books …

What Do You Need to Do Differently Right Now?

Once you decide to self-publish, you have taken on another group of tasks to do on a regular basis. Some you can farm out to others, some you’ll wind up doing yourself. But however you manage your work, you will be an entrepreneur–the person ultimately in charge of things getting done.