- Paperback: 252 pages
- Publisher: Loveland Press; 1 edition (August 20, 1999)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0966269624
- ISBN-13: 978-0966269628
- Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 0.8 x 9.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 17 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,152,185 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Writing the Nonfiction Book (The Successful Writer's Guides) Paperback – August 20, 1999
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The advice in this book is simple, direct, and to the point. There is no theory here, only things that worked for Eva Shaw and enabled her to put 40 titles on bookstore shelves.
Is it the complete book on writing nonfiction? No.
I'd supplement it with "Damn! Why Didn't I Write That' by Marc McCutcheon, 'Writing Down the Bones,' by Natalie Goldberg, 'The Craft of Research, 2nd Ed.' by Wayne Booth, Creative Nonfiction by Philip Gerard and 'The New Journalism' by Robert Boynton.
This book is written in the same easy-going tone as I've come to expect from her. Ms. Shaw writes as though she is chatting with an old friend--one who needs a writing cheerleader. Somehow, her exercises do seem to get my ink flowing.
"Writing the Nonfiction Book," is informative, yet easy to read, and I recommend it for anyone who needs a nudge to get started writing, or anyone who may be battling a case of writer's block.
Thank you, Ms. Shaw for being the champion of aspiring writers.
The message in this book is positive (yes, you can do it), yet realistic (don't kid yourself, this takes work). Shaw walks you through the entire process, from picking a topic through interviewing and organizing the book to writing a proposal, getting a contract, and promoting your work.
Ms. Shaw refreshingly uses clean, light prose that's easy to digest. An unexpected treat were the creative writing exercises scattered throughout the chapters. Are creative writing exercises necessary for someone who's trying to publish a book? Perhaps not, but they illustrate one of Shaw's core messages: the need to refresh yourself and to enjoy what you are doing.
Another core message -- and a critical one for idealistic would-be authors -- is that while writing is, well, writing, publishing is a business. It's fine to write because you want to, but to write as a career, you need to please your audience: your agent, editor, readers. You must fill a need -- to educate and/or to entertain -- or nobody will want to read your work. And you must promote your writing, or else no matter how useful, no one will know about it.
If you are willing to put in the work described in this book: identify your competition, understand the market, articulate your qualifications as a writer and the book's unique slant, and come up with and carry out a realistic promotional plan (oh, yeah, somewhere in there you have to actually write the book, too...) then you have a real chance of success. However, if just reading Shaw's advice seems distasteful or tiring, you should rethink your goals.
Writing the Nonfiction Book is not perfect. The most basic thing is missing: a sample proposal, or at least a sample query. Chapter 5 ("The Specifics of Nonfiction Genre") showcases eight somewhat overlapping kinds of nonfiction books, but overlooks many others of an informative nature (science, history, nature, reference, current events, etc.)
Nonetheless, this book is worth reading. You must learn about the process somehow -- why not in this enjoyable, informative book.