Six Steps to Setting Up Your Successful Nonfiction Book

Six Steps to Setting Up Your Successful Nonfiction Book

© 2015 Kebba Buckley Button, MS, OM. World Rights Reserved.

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Photo © Frolsky-Fotolia

Attention, nonfiction writers! Many of you may be floundering, trying to create a book by working certain hours every day, talking about “process,” and applying other bleak disciplines. However, I’m here to tell you that you should be enjoying yourself – and you can do that. My goal is to make your nonfiction writing easy and enjoyable by offering six steps you can use to build your work.

  1. First, choose the type of work you want to write. Regardless of the argument you plan to make or information you plan to share, you may want to consider a few options for the form you will use to turn it into a book. Glance over the following examples of the many nonfiction forms and consider which would be best for your particular work.

History (e.g., Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years)

Memoir (e.g., Born Free)

Factual science/issues  (e.g., RCA Best Book of Sharks)

Information collection (e.g., Detecting Women, an index of female mystery writers and their works.)

Textbook (g., Textbook of Neonatal Resuscitation)

Medical (g., Current Medical Diagnosis and Treatment 2015)

Self-help (e.g., Discover The Secret Energized You)

Spiritual (e.g., Way of the Peaceful Warrior)

Handbook (e.g., The Spiritualist Manual)

Photobook with text (g., National Geographic Stunning Photographs)

Recipes (e.g., The Joy of Cooking)

Political commentary (e.g., One Nation: What We Can All Do to Save America’s Future)

Business wisdom (e.g., Seven Habits of Highly Effective People)

How-to (e.g., Urban Gardening: How to Grow Food and Hope With Hydroponics)

Quote collection (e.g., The Portable Curmudgeon)

Essay collection (e.g., Emerson’s Essays)

If you have several ideas, start sketching out your thoughts for your potential format(s) throughout the next 5 steps. For instance, you might want to create a combination form, such as the memoir of a chef/restaurant owner that features many of his or her popular recipes.

  1. Now, consider your Unique Selling Proposition (USP). What is special about what you want to share? Are you a blind Olympian? Were you witness to a mass shooting? Did you serve as a chaplain at Ground Zero on 9/11? Do you want to share the story of a tsunami survivor, the breeder of the world’s only golden tortoise, or the founder of a private country? Do you want to write a lifestyle biography of Octomom or for someone who lost 200 pounds by playing chess? Special sells! So go ahead and make the most of your USP.


  1. Ask yourself now if your topic has series potential. What will you sell your readers after they buy this book? The bigger a hit this book is, the more people will want a second, and a third. Will there be an audio version of any or all of your book? There is a huge commuter community around Los Angeles and other cities who listens to audio books for hours per day. The audio market is a hot segment of the book sales universe.


  1. Collect your thoughts – literally. Carry a small notebook with you so that whenever you think of a question, memory, or story, or you see something that inspires you, you can jot it down. In lieu of a notebook, write on any scrap of paper and pop those in a zipper baggie when you get home. Clip intriguing little squibs from the newspaper and magazines – the ones that make your heart race. Use your smartphone to text or email yourself the fragment, and when you get home, save it to a “dresser drawer” file you’ve set up.


  1. Notice your passion. As you consider all the material related to your possible book, where does your passion rise? What excites, angers, or otherwise moves you about this project? That passion can carry you through a lot of boring moments and slow days. Also, emotional content sells, so cultivate your passion points and be sure to carry them into your book.


  1. Collect articles and cartoons, plus sample books. Collect articles, cartoons, quotes, and new word references from newspapers and magazines, flyers and TV shows. Pop these, along with your ziplock bag of fragments, into an expandable file. Label the file with the name or topic of your book. Now your project is all in one place. If you’re all digital, scan the articles, or key in the shorter ones as part of a continuous document of notes; store them in a directory under the name of the book.


If you’re not sure of the range of your topic, approximate; then relabel the file later, as needed. Nickname or code your book to speed up your processes (e.g., DTSEY for Discover the Secret Energized You). Also, collect sample books to help you consider what your book will look like. These are the books whose proportions, margins, covers, chapter design, and/or front and back material inspire you.


Follow these six steps to build the foundation of your success. Notice that you can feel your book building within you and becoming real before your eyes. Be systematic, and you will build your book into a great success.


Kebba Buckley Button is a stress management expert and author of the award-winning Kebba booksbook, Discover the Secret Energized You, as well as the 2013 book, Peace Within: Your Peaceful Inner Core, Second Edition. Her newest book, Sacred Meditation: Embracing the Divine, is available through her office. Just email for more info. Like this article? Buy Kebba’s books by clicking the links! Reach the writer at

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