15 Things to Do Before Publishing a Nonfiction Book

  1. Research your topic’s typical style of presentation (which media, what length of book, where publicized, where reviewed, likelihood of reach with each).
  2. Enlist aid or find and hire professionals to create similar high-quality presentations in your book (charts, photos, drawings, quizzes, interactive illustrations, resource links to websites and companion products, etc.)
  3. Consider whether it’s best to cover everything on your topic or whether it’s best to detail only the things that distinguish your ideas from anything else.
  4. Learn how to write in a style meant for the general public.
  5. Find an eminent expert on your topic to write an introduction and persuade that expert to do so.
  6. Find one or more well-known nonfiction voices (authors, radio show hosts, etc.) to give you publicity blurbs.
  7. If you are an academic, compare the peer review and professional journal system to trade publishing and how they interface or don’t interface, and consider the professional consequences of publishing a trade book.
  8. Find influencers on your topic and convert them to willing cross-promoters.
  9. Plan and create a cohesive platform for your book (newsletter, social media, blogs, speaking tours, website, companion workbook, deals or discounts with other providers, etc.).
  10. Research other media as drivers for your book, or your book as driver (speaking events, publicity tours, corporate or group sponsorship of the book or of an event at which your book is given away or sold).
  11. Learn how print book distribution works today, including significant alternatives to Amazon, significant alternatives to Ingram, the book festival trail versus classic and alternative methods of getting your book into bookstores, methods of getting reviews in respected publications, and pricing and discounting.
  12. Find out how and when to submit your book to agents and traditional publishers, including how to present your platform.
  13. Research timing of all efforts, that is, which comes first, the blog about the topic, or the book?
  14. Consider the pros and cons of using book packagers (a.k.a. hybrid publishers) or full-service printers and the pitfalls of vanity presses.
  15. Investigate small presses that could edit and produce your book well, get it reviewed in important media, and then sell it effectively to your audience.


Bonus tip: Although apparently it has not been updated recently, Susan Page’s The Shortest Distance Between You and a Published Book is an excellent resource for would-be writers of trade nonfiction.

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