Herbie J Pilato: How To Write A Nonfiction Book That Sells!

Illustration by Mark Fearing
Illustration by Mark Fearing

by Herbie J Pilato

I wish I had a dollar for every time someone said they should write a book.


Scratch that.

I wish I had a MILLION dollars for every time someone said they should write a book, whether it’s the proverbial great American novel, or a nonfiction publication of some sort.

Suffice it to say, these days everybody wants to write a book. Or at least they think they can. But doing so is no easy task and, as with any worthy creative project, it requires a solid combination of skill, talent, determination, tenacity, and savvy.

As the author of 12 published books (and few others on the way!), I am more than happy (and qualified!) to offer a few bits of advice in one particular sector of the publishing/literary field: The nonfiction category – specifically, the pop-culture/media tie-in sub-genre.

1] Write about what you love. That always helps. Since the day I was born I loved the TV show, Bewitched, and every good thing that ever transpired in my writing career, from blogging to producing TV shows, happened because of my first book, THE BEWITCHED BOOK (which was published by Dell in 1992, and which Summit Publishing and Tapestry Press later revised and expanded a few times as BEWITCHED FOREVER).

2] Decide the process. Will you seek a traditional publisher or go the self-publishing route? Try to sell it first in proposal form or as a completed manuscript? In the ever-expanding world of contemporary publishing, there are many options as pretty-much everything goes! Find a format that floats your boat, fits your objective and is productive to your lifestyle.

3] Find your voice – make it clear, and place it into your work. Write well; get to the point; be authentic; write with authority; but be welcoming to the reader.

4] Know your audience, especially if you choose the traditional path to publishing. Whether you decide to sell your book to a publisher in proposal form or as a completed manuscript, deliver the goods when it comes to marketing facts and numbers. Who will buy the book and why? List comparative books that are already published; and what will make yours different and stand-out.

5] If writing the proposal, it must read like a book itself, with a beginning, middle and end; ultimately divided as such: OVERVIEW, POTENTIAL MARKETS, CHAPTER-BY-CHAPTER OUTLINES, CHAPTER SAMPLES, ABOUT THE AUTHOR.

6] If you decide to the complete the book before making any submissions, take your time, pace yourself; get it done; edit it and edit it again; and then hire an editor to edit it once more.

Follow these steps and you’ll write a nonfiction book that sells!

Herbie J Pilato is a Contributing Editor to TVWriter™. You can learn more about him HERE.

Author: Herbie J Pilato

Writer, Author, Producer, Actor, Singer/Songwriter, Lover of Life