If you want to know how to write a nonfiction book, you’ve come to the right place.
We are going to focus on 21 simple steps to help you learn how to write a nonfiction book. This post is not meant to have much fluff and it’s going to focus on a 21 step process I have used to write my first nonfiction book which is coming out soon.
The truth is, you can learn how to write a nonfiction book fast IF you have all of your notes ready to go from the start. That’s the real secret to writing nonfiction books in 30 days.
The key is you don’t want to start from scratch. You want, instead, to pull from notes that already exist that you’ve made along the way.
You can check out this video by Ryan Holiday to see the process in action:
How To Write a Nonfiction Book Fast (The 21 Steps)
Table Of Contents
If you like this content I may come back and flesh these sections out into more individual posts. Let me know by leaving a comment or contacting me.
Step 1 – Intention
You have to choose what it is you want to learn or create. So, if your goal is to write a nonfiction book fast then you want to sent the intention. Decide what you want to write about so you can start looking for materials.
Step 2 – Destination
Begin with the end in mind, as Dr. Covey so famously said. Create a specific goal or place you want to end up going with this project. What’s the “end game”? This is a real key to the whole process if you are serious about learning how to write a nonfiction book.
Step 3 – Compensation
Decide what’s in it for you. How will you get paid for this knowledge you are creating? And this doesn’t always mean money either. You can get paid in awareness, attention, brand building, getting leads, getting practice, building your authority, for SEO ranking, and even just as a way to demonstrate your skills.
It’s important to decide on your compensation early because that will affect how much time and effort goes into the project.
Step 4 – Collection
This is a very important step. It’s now time to start looking for materials that you can draw inspiration from. I recommend at least 4-5 books on similar topics, multiple blog posts, twitter feeds, podcasts, and audio books. You want as much material as you can get your hands on.
Step 5 – Inspection
Go crazy. Dig in. Read way more than you should. Most of what you read won’t be directly useful but will indirectly help you by helping you make connections later on. This is the step that really turns you into an expert.
There’s no way around it, you’ve got to inspect a lot of material at this stage. You want to expose yourself to the top-down structure of existing knowledge that already exists.
Step 6 – Rejection
Here’s a fun step! If the material isn’t right, get rid of it. While it’s important to read as much as you can, don’t waste time on material that doesn’t resonate with your or your book topic.
Rejection can be very therapeutic.
Step 7 – Selection
The time has come. You’ve done a lot of research and now you want to pick your dream time of material that you are really gonna dive into for ideas and help. Basically in this step you are just picking out the best material you’ve found so you can do a deep dive on it.
Step 8 – Injection
My favorite step! This is when you READ READ READ or LISTEN LISTEN LISTEN. You will be reviewing the material you chose in step 7 with wild abandon. Go through everything and don’t hold back.
Feel free to add more material as well as you go. You will often find references to other material in the books you are reading. You can never read to much when you are focused on how to write a nonfiction book.
Step 9 – Extraction
This is my favorite step. You want to extract as much knowledge from the material you are reading as you possibly can. Make sure it resonates with you. You want to highlight, bold, and of course takes notes in your own words.
That’s key too, Take notes in your own words and you can’t go wrong. If you want to get better at taking notes, may I suggest my 5 post series on How To Take Good Notes?
Step 10 – Education
This is a step added to make sure you are thinking like an educator. When you are writing a nonfiction book fast especially, it’s very important to keep the mindset of an educator. Everything you read or listen to… do so with a teachers mindset.
Being a teacher means learning with the intent to share the knowledge with others. Always look for how you can better explain a concept or problem.
Step 11 – Reflection
Now that you’ve read a ton of materials, it’s time to take a break. Let your subconscious mind go on a hiatus where it will work hard for you to make sense of all the material you’ve been learning.
Feel free to think about it if you want, but you really don’t have to. Just set intentions before you go to bed at night or ask yourself questions. You’ll be amazed at what your subconscious mind can do.
Step 12 – Connection
Now it’s time to start connecting the dots. Write out or speak out interesting connections from this new material or even from old material. This is where creativity starts to happen.
Your brain should start firing on all cylinders and you should have lots of notes that you made in the “Extraction” stage. As you go through those notes, look for connections that others may have missed.
Step 13 – Question
As you are making connections, one of the most powerful things you can do is start asking questions. Write out the questions that you just don’t know the answer to. Here’s an easy way to come up with questions.
Start explaining your ideas to a child. See what questions they ask. If you can’t explain it to a 10 year old, then you probably don’t really understand.
See this video of a lecture of Richard Feynman to learn the difference between knowing and understanding
Step 14 – Consolidation
Now we’re getting somewhere! You’ve made connections, you asked questions (and hopefully answered them), and you’ve spent a LOT of time reading, listening, and contemplating on what your nonfiction book is going to be about.
Now it’s time to start consolidating all the knowledge in your head and start breaking it down. Focus on breaking down big ideas breaking them down into smaller chunks of information.
You can do this in a simple bullet point format. But the key here is to think in First Principles. This means that instead of reasoning from analogy (this is LIKE that) reason from the fundamental truths.
If X is true, then what does that mean for Y. This is how you get really good at thinking and ultimatley creating more breakthrough ideas.
Here this concept best explained by Elon Musk:
Step 15 – Formation
This is my favorite step. You now take all your discoveries and aha moments and begin to convert this new knowledge into a system that others can easily grasp. This is also an exercise in branding.
Think of many great nonfiction books, they all have a “Big idea” that explains the book in just a few simple words. Four Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss is a great example. Or 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey.
For my own book, my writing partner and I settled on “Scaling The 7 C’s” a play on words and also encapsulates the idea which is the 7 C’s that companies need to focus on in order to scale and grow.
So, think through everything you’ve written and learned so far. Can you turn these principles into a system? Acronyms work great. Big promises work well too. The key is to make something unique that hasn’t been said before in that way.
This is the secret sauce you must learn if you really want to know how to write a nonfiction book.
Step 16 – Summation
You’ve got all your ideas mapped out now. You’ve created your unique system. What’s next? It’s time to sum it all up. For this, I personally like to use Roam Research. I love the bulleted format and I just brain dump everything I possibly can into it.
You also should use this summation to serve as a nonfiction book outline. Try to organize your material into chapters. For most nonfiction books you’ll want around 10 chapters. The first and last chapter are intro and outro.
The in-between chapters are where the meat is. You also want lots of stories. As you layout your chapter ideas, try to jot down a note with a link to a story you read or liked, or better yet if you have one from your own life use that.
Step 17 – Citation
Lest we get accused of plagiarism or making stuff up, make sure you write down and accurately track all your sources of information. You never want to be in a position where your nonfiction book makes a claim you can’t back up.
Citations can be pretty boring, so don’t be afraid to get some help here. You may have a friend who loves this kind of stuff. I do , and I go to him when I need help.
Step 18 – Fortification
You came here cause you wanted to learn how to write a nonfiction book fast, but I want to stress the importance of this step. Don’t skip it. During this step, write down a list of FAQ’s and do your best to answer them.
Think of what questions your darkest meanest critic would say, then answer their questions. This material can then be weaved into your nonfiction book so you come out looking like a champ.
There are always critics who love tearing down creators, don’t give them the chance. Fortify!
See what writing instructor David Perell says about how he does this:
Step 19 – Production
This is it! You have everything now. You have your outline, you’ve become your own worst critic. You have TONS of notes to draw from. You have a unique system that you created and you can explain all the concepts to a 10 year old.
This is where you actually start writing your nonfiction book. If you’ve been wondering how to write a nonfiction book in 30 days, this is how. All you have to do is spend a few months beforehand doing all the prep work!
I hope now you can see that the writing part is the easy part. It’s just taking all your ideas and putting it into words. It’s not easy, but it’s simple. The hardest part is taking the time to sit and write it out everyday.
Your nonfiction book outline is your guide. Your main job is to just type!
Step 20 – Publication
YES! You did it you have your book. As part of the Production process, you will want to have edited the book at least a few times. You also should have a 3rd party editor read it if at all possible.
Once you’ve done that (and gotten your book cover designed) then it’s time to publish your nonfiction book. Obviously, I can’t go into detail on that side in this post, but it’s a very happy day when you see a book that you wrote on Amazon or even better in a book store.
Step 21 – Distribution
Sadly, publication doesn’t mean sales. Now that your book is published you’ve got to find ways to promote it and get it out there. I recommend trying lots of free strategies like Twitter and Facebook groups and talking to your target market.
You can also give away a free chapter of your book (make it the best one) and build an email list up.
If you’re a first time self-published author it will be slow growth, but that’s ok. If you want to really crank it up, you will need to explore paid ads, but that’s another topic all together.
Final Thoughts On How To Write A Nonfiction Book
Well, there you have it. The 21 step process to go from 0 to a completed and selling nonfiction book. You now know what it takes to get a nonfiction book written. You know how to make a nonfiction book outline, and most importantly you know that it’s gonna take some work to get your book done.
And that’s ok! Yes, you can write your nonfiction book in 30 days… after you’ve done all the pre-work required to get there.
If I had to sum up the most important step, it’s coming up with a unique, brandable angle for your book. There are hundreds of thousands of nonfiction books written and you have to stand out.
That’s why gathering and reviewing as much material as you can will give you the brain juice to come up with something creative.
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