How to Write a Good Nonfiction Book in a Month

As November approaches, many nonfiction and fiction writers are preparing to take on a book-in-a-month challenge. But is it possible to write a book, or a good book, in a just 30 days?
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As November approaches, many nonfiction and fiction writers are preparing to take on a book-in-a-month challenge. But is it possible to write a book, or a good book, in a just 30 days?

My short answer is: Yes. Of course, you can write a book, or a good book, in 30 days.

I know plenty of novelists who write the first draft to their novels in 30 days. Those drafts are not schlock or dreck or any other name you want to give to something you’d put in the circular file (the trash can).

This guest post is by Nina Amir. Amir is an eight-time Amazon bestselling author of such books as How to Blog a Book and The Author Training Manual. A speaker and blogger, she is known as the Inspiration to Creation Coach because she helps creative people combine their passion and purpose so they move from idea to inspired action and positively and meaningfully impact the world as writers, bloggers, authorpreneurs, and blogpreneurs. She provides author, book, blog-to-book, and high-performance coaching services to her clients, some of whom have sold 300,000+ copies of their books, landed deals with major publishing houses and created thriving businesses around their books. She is the founder of National Nonfiction Writing Month, National Book Blogging Month, and the Nonfiction Writers’ University. As a hybrid author she has published 16 books and had as many as four books on the Amazon Top 100 list at the same time. To find out more about Nina and get a free goal-achievement e-book, visit www.ninaamir.com.

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The same goes for nonfiction. I know many nonfiction writers who turn out the first draft of a nonfiction book in 30 days as well.

Notice, however, that I said “draft.” Typically, during a 30-day writing challenge you produce the first draft of what will become a good book. You can produce the first draft with a sound structure and decent writing, though. That means the editing process, which happens after the challenge ends, doesn’t entail a total revision but just fine tuning and polishing.

Can you Only Produce a First Draft in a Month?

You also can turn out an entirely finished book in 30 days. And that book can be a good book.

You’ve probably heard of instances when a writer sits down, and a book simply flows out of them start to finish in record time. They may feel so inspired that they don’t sleep much, and they eat at their computer and only stop writing when “nature calls.” They may produce a manuscript that needs little to no editing in just a matter of a few weeks, send it off to an editor who returns it in also in just a few weeks. Voilà! The work is ready for publication.

Writers who spend a lot of time planning their books—fiction and nonfiction—prior to sitting down to write do this. For instance, Jonathan Maberry churns out books in about four weeks, but he plans rather than writing by the seat of his pants. I have turned out a nonfiction book in four weeks, but I also planned ahead.

In most cases, to finish a polished manuscript in a month means tackling a shorter book. To publish it in that amount of time as well you might want to take on a short project.

[What’s A Nonfiction Writer Supposed to Do During November's National Novel Writing Month? Here's what.]

Choose between Creating Original or Repurposed Work

Using repurposed material—at least in part—provides another viable way to create a book in a month. You may have essays, articles or blog spots you can compile and revise or edit into a book. Consider the best book you could write on a topic, then search out content you’ve already produced. Add content to fill in any gaps. That’s how you produce a good book from repurposed material. You can do this quickly, but you still need to plan ahead.

Many book-in-a-month challenges can be completed with existing content, rather than new content, if they don’t “require” previously unpublished material. National Fiction Writing Month requires new content. However, the Write Nonfiction in November Challenge (National Nonfiction Writing Month) doesn’t stipulate what type of content you produce as long as it’s nonfiction.

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5 Things You Need to Book in a Month

Although many writers who produce books—and good ones—in a month are practiced at writing books, others are newbie writers inspired by the challenge. You can follow in their footsteps if you have the following:

  • An idea: You have to start with an idea. You can’t flounder around for the first two weeks or so wondering what to write about.
  • The will: You must have a strong desire to write a book in a month. No matter what challenges arise during those 30 days, your will must push you forward to meet your goal. You must have the determination to put your butt in the chair every day for 30 days and churn out work.
  • A plan: The more planning you complete before the month begins, the easier it becomes for you to meet your goal by month’s end. This is true not only for your book project but also for your personal calendar. Know what you will write, how you will write it and what resources or research you need to write your book as well as how much time it will require and how you will fit this time into your daily schedule.
  • The mindset: If you believe it will take a long time to write a book or a good book, that’s the reality you will create. If you think, “Books take a long time to write,” “Writing a book is hard,” “Writing a good book is supposed to take at least a year,” or anything along these lines, that will become your experience of a book-in-a-month challenge, and you won’t meet your goal. Have the mindset, the belief system or thoughts, that allow you to write a book in a month. Believe you can do it. Think, “I can write a book in a month, ”Writing a book in a month will be easy, fun and rewarding!” and “I have what it takes to write a book in 30 days.” That’s how you meet such a challenge.
  • The habits: To keep up a 30-day marathon writing regimen, you have to have good habits—not just writing habits but basic high performance habits. You need to take frequent breaks to keep yourself fresh, drink a lot of water, eat well, sleep enough, and learn to manage your attention. With clarity and focus, you can cross the finish line. (Learn more about becoming a high-performance writer here.)

[Learn the 8 Essential Elements of a Nonfiction Book Proposal]

If you have these five things, you can complete a manuscript in 30 days. In some cases, you might even have that manuscript ready for publication. I’ve managed to do that a few times myself and produced both ebooks and print-on-demand books in a month. I’m sure, if you put your mind to it, you can produce a good book in that amount of time.

To learn more about National Nonfiction Writing Month, aka the Write Nonfiction in November Challenge, or to register, click here.

If you're serious about getting your nonfiction book out there—this is the kit for you.
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Brian A. Klems is the editor of this blog, online editor of Writer's Digest and author of the popular gift bookOh Boy, You're Having a Girl: A Dad's Survival Guide to Raising Daughters.

Follow Brian on Twitter: @BrianKlems
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