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Non-fiction writing tip: Make sure you know your subject!

**Way to often in my role as an editor I come across authors who have chosen to write about a subject without doing enough background research. You need to know about all the other books out there on your subject, and you should have read most of them. Especially the best or most popular ones. Nobody is going to care about what you have to say unless your book trumps them all, and you can only do that by really knowing your field. The following article expands on why it’s important to recognize that you don’t know it all, and how to fix it.**

Author: Jim Green

Never take for granted that you already know enough about your special subject to fill a book. No one is that clever. Spend some time testing out the depth of your knowledge by making lists of what you know and what you don’t know. Take particular note of those areas that require substantiation or where you are lacking corroborative detail.


This is where you start your research and it is so important that the whole of Module 7 is devoted to the subject. Most of what you need you will find online at home or in the free-to-use ‘active learning’ centers provided by your local public library where you can also double up on your research by accessing appropriate hard copy references manuals.


While you are in the process of conducting the required tests on your chosen topic, there is no better way of dipping your toe into the waters of essential research than to survey the produce of fellow writers in the genre.

This will give you an initial feel for:

  • The various categories covered by published authors;
  • The miscellaneous topics occurring in each category;
  • Comparison of writing styles;
  • Which titles have progressed to a second edition;
  • How many and which have been successful in attaining multiple editions;
  • The impact of all of this on the prospects for your chosen topic

How to undertake your survey

Start by sending off for a copy of the current catalog of each of the mainstream publishers specializing in your specific marketplace.

Spend some time studying these promotional pieces so that you become acquainted with the genre from the viewpoint of:

1. The publishers

2. The authors

3. The booksellers

4. The book buyers

Zero in on those categories that are even remotely connected to your area of special interest and endeavor to gauge their impact on the market. How many titles have reached the second edition stage? Are any on their 3rd, 4th, 5th or even 6th edition? If you can spot a few results, the omens are looking good. And while to have your category represented would be advantageous, it might prove equally advantageous if it is not. It could just be that no author has yet come up with a proposal on an acceptable approach.

Should you be successful in so doing you may well persuade a publisher to introduce a new category to match your chosen topic.

About the Author:

JIM GREEN is a bestselling author in the realms of fiction and non-fiction with 37 traditionally published titles to his bow – and more virtual books in distribution than you could shake a stick at…


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