Thursday, May 29, 2014

Book review: How to create Nonfiction Book Ideas that Sell

Many might say that writing non fiction books is much more easier than in the case of literature, but in many respects, the process is almost the same and even more delicate and complicated. Compared to the books usually included in the category of 'literature', nonfiction book that sell should be very focused and aiming to a very clear niche. Because based on facts and figures, it involves serious research because what usually the readership is expecting from you are new and useful information. 
The tips suggested by James Thomson are aimed to help anyone working on a nonfiction project, either beginner or experienced writer. It is never too late to learn something new. The book focuses a lot on the pre-writing project, with extensive information and details aimed to help the setting up of the ideas and the main writing material. The author suggest to carry on with and near you a notebook, where to record your ideas that you might encounter during the day. As for me, the notebooks used to be very useful a couple of years ago, especially during the university years when I was extensively spending time at libraries, collecting quotes and inspiration, but right now, the best incentive to have my ideas turned into books is to use some online software or simple Microsoft Word pages. 
Useful for this stage but also for the later marketing plans is the enlisting of the categories of nonfiction books. 
Beyond all these organizational and practical hints, the writing is obviously the most important part of the writing process, giving the real measure of success. I completely agree with the author's suggestion that one should consider the book that he or she would like to read. Very often, you don't need to reinvent the wheel, but to offer a new perspective and a fresh angle based on your personal observation and research. Such an approach usually suits very well the academic literature, with many books recreating completely new worlds starting from relatively unexpected details. 
'When someone is buying a book, they really don't care about you. they are buying the book with the hope and expectation that it will improve their life either in the short or long term'. I partially agree with this observation, although, especially in the case of someone who is new to the domain of publishing, getting to reach your audience is significantly harder than in the case of a writer with a certain base and fame. 
Out of inspiration? You could find it in the most unexpected places, as for instance at various conferences, during travel - I completely agree, as I started my latest book on the train back from Antwerp, struck by the idea of having a bigger perspective about the basics of blogging. Visiting bookstores and spending time browsing the pages of the magazines is another great suggestion for finding out inspiration.
As in the case of any important project that you want to make public, setting up a set of possible Q and A would help you not only in the relation with the media but also during the expected dialogue with your readers. 
I enjoyed reading the book - sometimes taking extensive notes - and I strongly recommend it to anyone on the road to become a published nonfiction writer. 

Thursday, May 22, 2014

On the advantages of being a beta reader

Recently, I did a lot of beta reading for bookish friends, and I am extremely grateful for this experience. At a certain extent, this is not exactly my first experience of this kind, as I was doing this type of reading for a long time already. The difference was that I was calling it differently: something like 'helping my friends to improve their writing'. And this is in fact the essence of beta reading. 
The person who is doing it is usually part of the 'inner circle' of the writer, online or in real life, sharing common interests and with enough free time and expertise to make suggestions for improving the story and characters. You should not have to be a graduate of philology, but to have the lust for reading. 
For those used with the usual academic chores, it can be a similar task with the proof reading or cross reading, except that in this case, the beta reading process is taking place at various stage of the writing process. It can start with the first draft of the manuscript and can continue later on during the various elaboration stages of the manuscript. 
Even though many can consider working as full time beta readers, with a proper paid remuneration for their efforts, I believe that doing it for free is part of my gratitude of being included as a reliable reading source and a person able to give suggestions. Also, as a reader-in-process myself, I am enormously learning from such experiences, ideas and thoughts helpful for my further writing. 
There are some sensitive aspects that are also important when dealing with the beta reading process. As generally in life, it is very important to be careful how to express your opinions and suggestions. I grew up with a high respect for everything that has connection with the written word and I also know how difficult is the writing process. During the sometimes difficult choice of words, the writer frequently put into motion a lot of energy and inner sensibilities. When the beta reader is rude and try to diminish the work he or she was given for consideration, without a specific explanation of the reasons, the writer can feel it more as a personal drama: it is the feeling of the failure of months, maybe years, of hard work, maybe without a proper financial support and stealing time from family. I suppose that except for the geniuses, none of the big writers were happy themselves with their first draft. By taking the risk to submit this original variant to comments and suggestions, he or she shows interest for reaching a better writing stage. Thus, it is very important that the beta reader has a certain human sensitivity as well, and is able to use his reading and eventually writing experience for helping the writer to improve, instead of simply destroying by aggressive words the entire work. 
As for me, the experience of the last weeks of being a beta reader were extremely rewarding and when the time allows, I will try to repeat the experience as often as possible.