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Finishing Up A Non-Fiction Book. Where To Go From Here? : FAQs • Writing Forum | WritersDigest.com

Finishing Up A Non-Fiction Book. Where To Go From Here?

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JustANovice1997
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Finishing Up A Non-Fiction Book. Where To Go From Here?

Postby JustANovice1997 » Sat May 14, 2016 3:14 am

Hi all, I am a college student who has decided to write a large book about a popular health condition that I have been interested in and have researched for over 4 years. The book is nearing its end and I'm not sure where to go from here. My first step in mind is to get a formatter/copyediter as I realize every book needs this. Now, I'm not sure if I should attempt to go through traditional publishing or self-publishing. I'm actually strongly leaning towards self-publishing because of time. I cited very recent research findings in my book and if I do go through traditional publishing and get approved, it might be a year - or even more, as I've read - before it is viewable and able to be sold. By that time, especially due to blogging and mass information sharing, it may be old news. A new treatment might also be developed that I of course would not have been able to write about.

On the other hand, I have some doubts about self-publishing. My fears concerning self-publishing are lack of prestige (and therefore less trust from potential consumers) and budget issues. I've seen some self-publishing 'packages' as high as $25,000 which is just astronomical for a student. I am trying to keep the budget below 1000, which leads me to believe I might just purchase a book cover designer, copyediter, and print the book from a print-on-demand website.

Then of course there is marketing. I am not sure how I would be able to reach many people all around the world. I have no connections and at this time I am not well known, so I won't be coming from a major platform. I do have a nutrition-oriented blog, but for the time being, I only get 1-10 viewers per day. I am sure I can grow the numbers, but I have not been active recently on the blog because combined with school, I had to spent ~2.5 years dedicated to writing the book. I expect to build up the blog AFTER I finish this major product.

I'm so sorry for rambling. I just wanted to properly outline the situation I am now. Does anyone have advice on how I should approach this? As you can see, I have somewhat of a plan, but am I approaching things correctly? Any help or sharing of experiences would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

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Re: Finishing Up A Non-Fiction Book. Where To Go From Here?

Postby pls » Sat May 14, 2016 9:35 am

Any self-publishing package costing $25,000 is simply a scam when you can self-publish yourself on Smashwords and Amazon for free.

A better investment is in a copy editor. Once your manuscript is cleaned up, you may want to read through the self-publishing forum right here for some excellent ideas. Good luck!
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DrG2
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Re: Finishing Up A Non-Fiction Book. Where To Go From Here?

Postby DrG2 » Sat May 14, 2016 12:27 pm

for a book about a "popular health condition," you need credibility to get it conventionally published. Credibility is attained by being an expert on it (which will require a M.D. or other appropriate degree), or a personal investment in it (you have the condition or are living with someone who does).

It's about having a "platform." You might want to research ways to do that. Having a popular blog or website or being a guest on TV shows could help.

For such books, you generally wouldn't submit the book, usually submitting the outline, a writing sample, and a description of your platform. Different agents want different things, so you could research that, and try to fulfill what they want as well as possible.

James A. Ritchie
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Re: Finishing Up A Non-Fiction Book. Where To Go From Here?

Postby James A. Ritchie » Tue May 17, 2016 1:15 pm


James A. Ritchie
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Re: Finishing Up A Non-Fiction Book. Where To Go From Here?

Postby James A. Ritchie » Tue May 17, 2016 1:19 pm

Self-publishing can take just as long as commercial, and can be extremely expensive, if you actually want to sell a lot of books. You probably won't save any time, and more important, you won't have a nationwide distribution network. Rather than receiving an advance, you'll have to shell out a LOT of money in order to pay for printing, and in order to pay a distributor.

At the very least, you can approach a couple of agents, and even a good publisher or two, and see what they have to say about your books. Time may be precious, but the surest way to waste time is by trying to rush things.

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Carly Berg
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Re: Finishing Up A Non-Fiction Book. Where To Go From Here?

Postby Carly Berg » Wed May 18, 2016 2:29 pm

Oh gee, where to start... Okay, here's my take on it: First, look up similar books on Amazon and see how they compare with yours. Check the tables of contents, and the "look inside this book" features, at the very least. See how yours fits with what's already actually out there. And keep in mind that new research that's old enough to be available to a student may well already be out there.

Now, has your general topic been well covered? If so, you might want to try picking out a smaller, less done facet of it to focus on. Also, who are the authors and publishers of the ones with high Amazon rankings? If there are lots of big names then you'll probably have to team up with an expert in the field if you want to get it commercially published. That means getting them to go over the book, add their name to it, or at least write you a forward. And of course if they went with that, they'd want some form of payment or profit-sharing.

If similar books mostly look self-published or put out by tiny presses, that's a clue that it's not of wide enough appeal for a commercial publisher and maybe you'd want to self-publish it for that reason. The niche topics, in my experience, can turn a tidy little profit. (tidy, not huge, lol).

If it's the right topic and you are the right person to write it (or can get someone to co-write who is) then you'll probably be much better off trying for an agent. Even once you get past the editing, formatting, and cover art, a self-published book will most likely only get what attention it grabs from people looking on Amazon for that topic, and from what name you do have related to it. (Getting some related articles published first can help you either get better self-published sales or get an agent's or publisher's attention). You can definitely make a few bucks with self-published nonfiction if it's something practical that people can use, often better than you can with fiction, I'd think, although those are very broad categories. But that self-published nonfiction book is not at all likely to get anything approaching the sales that a book put out by a big press will get (and that applies to self-publishing even if it is brand new information).

For self-publishing, the best way imo is to just go with Kindle and Createspace or some such print on demand publisher, and hire people individually for the services you need. Shelling out a grand is okay but five grand or more is imo not a good idea at all for a newbie but an excellent way to get burned.

Also, please beware of vanity presses. They prey on newbies and carefully disguise themselves as something other than vanity presses. And, also be aware of "micro presses." These are usually started when someone self-publishes their own book then decides to publish other writers' books too. Some newer writers are overly impressed to be offered publication and do not realize they're giving up some control and profits to someone who doesn't have much more knowledge or clout than they do themselves. Of course a writer who doesn't want to mess with it all may like that option but just be aware of what you are actually getting into.

If you do decide to try for an agent or decent small press, nonfiction books are sold on the basis of a proposal. So then the next thing you'd want to do is research "writing a book proposal" and work on that.

If you list more specifics we can probably be of more help. Good luck!
My books (available at Amazon):
Story Prompts That Work
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