transformative nonfiction


Are you trying to establish your brand as distinct from others? A book written by you can serve as a credibility card for your expertise in your field of interest.

 

Branding yourself with a book can help set you apart from experts that do similar work. It gives you a chance to show people what’s different about you, your message, and your methods.

 

To get started, or unstuck if you began writing but ran out of enthusiasm for your book, think about what sets you apart. What’s your story? How did you come to start your business or organization?

 

How did you begin writing and speaking about the subjects you cover? What inspired you?

 

What did you do to go from your lowest point to your highest point of success, whether it’s success in business, managing the challenges in life, parenting, or something else?

 

If I come to your website’s About page, what will I read? What photos of you will I see? If you’re a physician but also a motivational speaker, will I pick that up quickly by looking at the images of you and any other graphics? If you don’t yet have a website, start to build one. I like Wix and find it very easy to use if you know nothing about coding. Some people prefer WordPress or Squarespace or Godaddy’s website builder.

 

Also, think about who will connect with your brand. Reid Tracy, CEO of Hay House Publishing, has said that a book for everyone is a book for no one. The truth is that no brand and no book will appeal to every single person. That’s okay: You’ll have a brand and a book that appeals to a defined audience.

 

credibility card expert brand yourself with a book

Brand yourself with a book that serves as a credibility card for your expertise.

 

Maybe your followers will be business owners—in other words, you have a business-to-business or B2B brand.

 

Maybe your followers and fans will be parents who are in a similar situation to one you were in when you began developing your expertise in a particular area of parenting. My book Raising a Sensory Smart Child: The Definitive Guide to Helping Your Child with Sensory Processing Issues originated when I was desperate to find a book that would answer my questions and give me strategies for parenting a child with sensory issues. The book appeals to parents of kids with sensory issues but also to a secondary audience: professionals who work with these kids. For example, occupational therapists, psychologists, and teachers make up a big part of the book’s fan base. Raising a Sensory Smart Child has served as my credibility card and helped me book speaking engagements and teach workshops on the topic of helping kids who have sensory issues. What’s more, it has helped me to create a legacy book (with the help of my coauthor, Lindsey Biel) and fulfill my desire to make a difference in the world. It feels wonderful to know my book has changed many family’s lives for the better!

 

Another thing to think about when conceptualizing your book is that you need to have enough experience to be able to offer valuable insights and strategies to readers, using stories from your life and your work to illustrate your ideas. I often hear from clients who are eager to get started writing a book that can help other people but haven’t yet done the actual work of researching what else is out there on their topic. They aren’t clear on what they have to offer that no one else does. Put simply, they aren’t ready to write an entire book. They may, however, be ready to write a mini book, start writing and speaking publicly, and begin researching what else is being said on their topic and what has yet to be explored.

 

If you’re an aspiring author who isn’t established as an expert in your field but you feel you do have a fresh take on a topic, think about getting a foreword for your book or teaming with a coauthor who can help you boost your book’s visibility and your brand’s credibility. Many moms of kids with sensory issues did what I did: researched our children’s issues and joined support groups and exchanged ideas, strategies, and insights. However, I teamed up with a professional who treats kids with sensory issues and we got someone with a highly recognizable name and credibility among parents of kids with sensory issues to write us a foreword. I then did original research, including interviewing experts who had worked with teenagers who have sensory processing disorder. I knew that other books on sensory issues that were available had nothing about how to help kids once they reach adolescence. Through doing my own research, I came to know more about this particular topic than many people who were already writing about sensory issues.

 

I wasn’t coaching parents when I cowrote my book, and you don’t have to be a coach or consultant if you’re writing a book on a topic, but it helps if you can draw on stories other than your own. If you want to interview people for your book, where will you find them? How will you disguise their stories to protect their privacy? You can also draw anecdotes from wisdom tradition teaching stories (think of the blind men and the elephant, or the story from Buddhism of the overflowing cup of tea) and from current and historical events.

 

Exercises and action plans that are typically a part of a self-help book are important takeaways readers expect. If you are only just beginning to work as a coach or consultant, you might want your book to be more focused on themes and lessons: You can write a book of lessons, principles, or strategies or a short memoir. Even so, it’s good to have some exercises. You might want to create a quiz or exercises that are unique to you. These could be guided visualizations, meditations, journaling questions, or something else. Here’s an example of a guided visualization a client created and developed a video for that is tied into his messaging about working with the Earth for healing and accessing the wisdom of the unconscious.

 

Finally, as you think about writing your book, remember that people think of a book as a substantial document that also has a shape and structure rather than simply being a long document that got printed and stapled. Begin envisioning what your book will look and feel like as a physical object. Get a sense of how many words you need to write. A typical self-help book has somewhere around 50,000 to 70,000 words, for example.

 

Start typing or dictating into software that turns speech into text and see where you go. How much can you get down before you get stuck on what more you want to say?

 

You might have the basis for a strong book for your brand but need help fleshing out your ideas and expanding on them. Many aspiring authors are used to short-form writing and could use some help turning their ideas into a long-form book. Don’t give up! Get some insights from a professional writer, editor, and consultant who works with authors aspiring to brand themselves with a book. Check out comparative books and see what is out there on the Internet if you do a search for the type of information, strategies, and support people will find in your book.

 

Search Amazon, too. Use keywords but also use questions people might ask, such as, “How do I help my middle schooler do better in school” or “What’s the best way to way to pay off my student loan earlier?” Ask yourself, “Given what’s out there on this topic, why would someone want to hear what I have to say, buy my book, and read it?” If you can answer that, you have a solid foundation to begin branding yourself with a book and firmly establishing yourself as an expert on your topic.

 

Where are you in your writing and publishing journey? Do you need a few tips, a fresh strategy, or feedback on what you’ve written so far? Contact me if you’re feeling stuck and need help: info@nancypeske.com

 

 

 

transformative nonfiction


Are you feeling lost as you’re structuring chapters in a how-to or self-help book you’re writing? Did you get lost as one section of chapter one started to grow like creeping Charlie on your lawn, taking over the grass? Do you feel as if you’re repeating yourself over and over again, but you don’t know where to first introduce an idea and how to acknowledge that it’s familiar to the reader when you mention it a second or third time? Developmental editors like me help authors out of the weeds when they have trouble structuring chapters or sections. If you aren’t working with a developmental editor, here are some simple tips for structuring book chapters that might help (and of course, you can check with me to see if I’m available to get you out of the weeds, too):

First, don’t try to cram in too many ideas. Aim for five to eight topics per chapter. That’s true whether you are writing a full-length book or a mini-book. If your book is a “life lessons” book of transformational nonfiction, and the title is something like Fifty Ways to Make Your Fifties Fabulous, one topic per chapter makes sense since you’ll have fifty short chapters. However, if the number of lessons is smaller and you want each lesson to be a chapter, you’ll want subsections in each chapter to break up the text. For example, if you want to write The Six Laws of Marketing to Millennials, you’re probably going to need several sections for each law or chapter.

Second, arrange your ideas in a logical order. You might want to write your ideas on cards or simply type them into a document and move them around to get a feel for what order might work. In a book chapter, consider making an emotional connection or offer them a provocative idea at the beginning. Start with a story or some a startling statistic, statement, or fact. That can lead the reader into your first topic. You want to meet the reader where they are to get them where you want them to go, so make a connection right away.

Third, justify or change your order. Explain to yourself why you want to cover one topic before you cover another. You probably have a good reason and don’t realize it! As you justify to yourself why topic 2 comes before topic 3, you will get a better sense of how to write a transition from that topic to the next when you are writing the actual chapter. If you realize your order doesn’t make sense or doesn’t work quite right, it might be that a topic is a subtopic of one of the others. You can write it up as a subtopic in your outline for the chapter and perhaps give it its own header that is a different size from the headers for your main topic. You might even end up placing some material in a sidebar or boxed text that can be read after a section of text has been read. Sidebars and boxed texts are a convenient workaround when you have material that doesn’t smoothly fit into the main text. You might use a sidebar for text that is focused on resources (how to find a practitioner, nutritional or educational testing that can be done, etc.) or that serves as a warning, practical tip, or fun fact.

developmental editor nonfiction

 

Fourth, keep in mind that your entire book doesn’t have to fit into chapter one. It’s easy to get bogged down as you think about all the things you want to write about in your book. Remember, chapter one’s purpose is to meet the reader where they are and make a connection with them and then offer the main points that will be explored in detail later in the book. Phrases such as, “Later in this book,” and “As you will learn,” can help you cut yourself off before you go into too much detail on a topic that you want to explore at length later on. You don’t want to overdo the references to what’s coming, but you also don’t want to pile everything into chapter one.

Again, if you get completely stuck in your structuring and writing, consider hiring me as a developmental editor. I can pull you out of the weeds and convince you that you truly can conquer the task of writing a how-to or self-help book, business book, parenting book, life lessons book—or even a memoir. You might want to check out my services and testimonials pages to learn more about how I work with clients and what their experiences have been.

I especially love this endorsement from a recent client:

“I am an experienced author who has sold 1.1 million copies worldwide. Nevertheless, I got stuck on book number four and was paralyzed for five years. In one conversation, Nancy gave me a piece of advice that simplified a complex problem and actually got me excited about the book once again. Thank you, Nancy!”—Randi Kreger, Author of Stop Walking on Eggshells

Need help structuring your transformative nonfiction book? Contact me.