Non-Fiction: Before You Write, You Must Read

You’ve got a great idea for a non-fiction book, and you’ve just learned you have to write a proposal in order to land an agent or a publisher. Ok, you think, I’ll get right on it. You’ll soon learn it’s not as easy as sitting down and writing the proposal in your spare time this evening. The proposal is a…

Writing Non-Fiction: Author Bio

Recently, I wrote about the type of platform you need if you want to write non-fiction and how to go about building it if you don’t already have it. One thing I couldn’t find enough of when I was writing my first non-fiction proposals was actual examples of proposals that sold. So, I want to share one of mine with…

Writing Non-Fiction: Building a Platform

I’m contacted by a lot of you aspiring to write non-fiction, so I’ve resolved to start blogging more about my experiences. I have two non-fiction books coming out next year, and I’ve had two very different experiences with my books. My book on collective bargaining in baseball is with a smaller publisher who focuses much of its work on academic texts, while my book on the business of college football is with a large publishing house with many divisions.

Although the experiences have differed to a degree, one thing they have in common is that I had to write a proposal for each. The one aspect of a proposal I think many aspiring non-fiction authors don’t understand is the author platform. In my proposals, this came into play in both the Author Bio and Marketing Plan sections.

These sections are where you prove to the publisher that YOU are the person who should write this book. Not because you’re excited about the subject and really, really want to…but because you are the person most qualified to write this book.

Jessica Faust over at BookEnds, LLC (a literary agency) does a great job of describing the basis of the author bio:

We don’t really care if you went to Harvard or not. We care whether or not you can sell this book to thousands of people. Therefore, who are you and what makes you an expert on this subject, and, most important, what gives you a national platform? Do you give workshops? Presentations? Do you teach at Harvard (much different than having attended)? Have you been featured in national magazines, on TV or radio? Do you have a number of major media contacts interested in your subject?

I can’t tell you how many people email me saying they want to write a non-fiction book on [insert any sports subject here], but who have nothing more than an interest in the subject. Unfortunately, it’s not enough.

That being said, it doesn’t mean you can’t build a platform.

Looking for a Critique Partner

Many of you know I have two non-fiction books coming out next year, but I haven’t been as vocal about the fiction manuscript I’ve been working on the past few years. That’s probably because the non-fiction books have found publishers and the fiction manuscript has not.

I recently decided to do a complete rewrite of my fiction manuscript. It’s a story I love, and I’m not ready to give up on it yet. That being said, I see where the first draft of the manuscript failed.

What I need now is a critique partner – someone to tell me I’m headed in the wrong direction before I’m 75,000 words into it.

I’ve both been a part of a critique group and had individual critique partners. The biggest problem I ran into was having people critique my work who do not read or write women’s fiction, my genre of choice. The second largest problem I ran into was critique partners who only gave positive feedback. While I can always use some of that, I need some bitter with the sweet. I genuinely want to improve my writing.

So, I figured I’d try this – a public notice that I am looking for a critique partner for my women’s fiction manuscript. Here’s what I’m looking for in a partner:

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