Writing Your Non-Fiction Book Ã¢â‚¬â€œ The Complete Guide To becoming An Author By Trish Nicholson
Reviewed by Anne Stormont, Words with JAM
An author who practises what she preaches.
Claiming to be the complete guide to anything is a bold claim indeed. The author promises in her introduction that she will lead you Ã¢â‚¬Ëœa step at a timeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ through the whole process of producing and selling your non-fiction book.
In my opinion, the authorÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s claim is valid and her promise holds true.
This guide book would work just as well for as fiction writing as it does for non-fiction. It is aimed at the complete beginner but thereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s plenty that could be useful to the more experienced writer, most especially indie author-publishers.
The book is divided into three main sections Ã¢â‚¬â€œ Planning, Writing and Editing, and Publishing and Marketing. At the end there is a comprehensive list of useful websites, books and a glossary.
The advice offered is both general and specific and, indeed, as you read the book you see the author putting her that into practice.
There is genre-specific guidance Ã¢â‚¬â€œ for everything from travelogues to blogs. As Nicholson herself says thereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s, Ã¢â‚¬Ëœenough scope here whether you intend to write on particle physics or brewing parsnip wineÃ¢â‚¬â„¢. And there is more general advice on editing, routes to publishing and how to sell and market your work.
The book takes you through planning, plotting, point of view Ã¢â‚¬â€œ yes these three are just as important in non-fiction as in fiction. ThereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s advice on workspace and finding time to write. The author also covers how to carry out research, how to avoid plagiarism and explains about copyright. Again, all relevant to creators of fiction as well.
Personally speaking, I found the sections on blogging, having a website and the use of social media to be particularly useful, as was the section on routes to publishing. I also especially liked the sections on how to write blurbs of various lengths depending on their purpose, and on how to pitch your work both to publishers and readers.
Nicholson recommends that you read the book straight through and then re-read as you write. And she says that Ã¢â‚¬ËœIf you have followed each step with me so far you have achieved by now a thoroughly prepared manuscript, a decision as to how you will pursue its publication and the beginnings of an author platformÃ¢â‚¬â„¢.
As I said at the start of this review, whether youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re a novice or an old-hand, drawn to writing fact or made-up stuff, a prospective or actual traditionally or independently published author, youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re sure to find something of use here.
I hope to have shown that this book goes beyond the mission of its title. This is an essential Ã¢â‚¬ËœHow ToÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ manual for writers of every sort.
Successful events in the UK and Netherlands in 2014:
Trish's tour of author talks and workshops - on creative writing, and starting a non-fiction book - held during September/October 2014 received an enthusiastic response from participants. She offered 8 presentations in bookshops and with writers' groups in Amsterdam, Nottingham, Manchester, Bolton, Bath and Worthing. You can read her blog posts about the workshops, and how to design your own, on her website.
This is a beautiful book, both in its words and in its presentation. The cover is gorgeous in look and feel and the text more than lives up to the promise of the cover.
To be human is to tell stories. It's in our human nature to make sense of our lives through the stories we tell ourselves and others. And it's the development and variety of humanity's stories that Trish Nicholson explores in her book. She travels from the earliest oral traditions to the crossroads that the digital age has now brought us to. A crossroads where our stories can be spread across the globe and where they can be used either as tools for freedom or for oppression.
It's a big ask for a book to live up to such a title but it most certainly does. Because of the nature of its contents, this is a book for dipping into rather than reading from cover to cover. Each chapter is a delight and there is no stuffy academic prose. The index of storytellers is comprehensive going from Aesop to Zola, as is the roll call of cultures visited which ranges from Aboriginal to Zulu.
Every chapter has something to commend it but one of my favourites is the one on Sir Walter Scott. Yes, because this is a storyteller whose roots are close to home for me, but also because it's so absorbing and interesting. And it's a great example of one superb storyteller telling a great story about another.
I highly recommend this book to oral storytellers, to writers and to readers.
by Anne Stormont
Dedicated, “to all who love Story whoever you are,” this book encompasses storytelling since communication began and covers most corners of the globe. Story is personified, weaving through History, influencing events, and what happens affects the nature of stories.
From early Creation stories of Africa and Australia, we move through legend, myth, saga and fable. As words begin to be written down, words confer authority and as we all know, history is written by the victors. Common themes of the wisdom of animals, of good versus evil, of disguise and mistaken identity recur but there are also specific features only present in one era.
Trish Nicholson gives us tantalising details of the lives of so many tellers of tales, but as she says, “Teasing out strands of the old storytellers’ lives is like following a thread through the Cretan labyrinth; the “Minotaur” we discover at the other end may turn out to be a goat rather than a bull.” The lives of Chaucer and Boccaccio are compared and the similarities and differences in their work marked. Similarly, she shows us how Sir Walter Scott and James Fenimore Cooper reflected their era and their environment in using the tales told by the indigenous people of their countries.
My favourite chapter tells us about Marguerite, Queen of Navarre, the talented sister of the King of France. Her life was varied and eventful, surrounded by poets and writers. A politically astute woman, she was widely respected and a skilled mediator. She spent time translating parts of the New Testament and more relevantly, writing stories. When her collection of tales was published posthumously in 1558, some of her humorous stories were considered of an unsuitable bawdy nature for a woman so some were edited and credited to a man.
“A Biography of Story” is no boring book of literary criticism, since the author is herself a storyteller. She narrates significant stories to her readers, highlighting the essential strands of each literary era so that the book can be dipped into, using the clear descriptive chapter summaries or the comprehensive index. But perhaps, like me, you would rather start at the beginning and enjoy reading the entire delightful text.
by Elizabeth Lloyd
About the author:
Trish Nicholson is a writer of narrative (creative) non-fiction and prize-winning short stories. Her writing career spans thirty years as columnist, feature writer for national media in the UK and Australia, and author. She is also a social anthropologist and keen photographer who has worked or travelled in over 20 countries, including extensive treks in Nepal, Bhutan and Tibet. She achieved an MA degree in anthropology at Durham University in the UK, and in 1991, while working in Papua New Guinea, she gained an MSc in rural development through the University of London. In 1997 she was awarded a PhD from the University of the Philippines for her research on culture and tourism.
Writing has always been an important part of her life. Her published work includes books on management, applied anthropology, responsible tourism, travelogues, popular science, and writing craft. Trish also has a passion for storytelling. Several of her short stories have won prizes in international competitions and been published in anthologies.
Starting with a career in regional government in the UK and Europe, where she was also a tutor for the Open University and, later, the Open Business School, Trish moved into management development and consultancy before taking her skills overseas. After 5 years working in the West Sepik province of Papua New Guinea on a World Bank Development project, she spent 3 years as the Director of Voluntary Service Overseas in the Philippines. For a further 4 years she researched indigenous communities in the Philippines, Vietnam, and Australia with a grant from the UK Department for International Development.
Now settled in New Zealand and writing full-time, Trish combines her passions for anthropology, stories, travel and photography by writing creative non-fiction. What she describes as: Ã¢â‚¬Å“professional research and experience narrated by a storyteller, whispering in the readerÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s ear as they walk beside me.Ã¢â‚¬Â
She enjoys encouraging others to write their stories and share their experience and skills, which is the reason she wrote Writing Your Nonfiction Book. Her motto is: Ã¢â‚¬ËœWhatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.Ã¢â‚¬â„¢ (Attributed to Goethe).
You can follow her on Twitter as @trishanicholson and visit her website Ã¢â‚¬â€œ and her Treehouse Ã¢â‚¬â€œ at Trish NicholsonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Words in the Treehouse: