Writing a nonfiction book? Make sure you write the right title

Book cover - HLJB larger

A title that really “does what it says on the label.” And it has been an Amazon top 10 best seller in the UK for the last 12 years, frequently hitting the Amazon #1 spot in all equestrian categories. Simple but powerful.

All book titles (fiction as well as nonfiction) are a very important part of the marketing of a book. With nonfiction and particularly business books, like every other piece of marketing communication should, the book title has to offer or at least suggest a benefit to the reader.

It’s the title people react to when they see a book displayed, whether that’s on a shelf in a bookstore or online. When people are looking through books you only have one chance to get their attention, which is why your title needs to be powerful enough to stop them in their tracks. [Read more…]

Why it’s still worthwhile to write a (good) business book

Why it’s still worthwhile to write a (good) business book

Yes, yes, I know it’s one of mine, but it’s still an example of how nonfiction/business books can work well for you

The entire international book publishing scene has changed a lot in the 21st century.  Whereas becoming a published nonfiction author was difficult even until the end of the 20th century, now it’s easy due, largely, to the vastly increased number of different publishing options, not to mention an increase in delivery options – print, eBook, audio book, blog serialization, etc.

Undoubtedly the fact that producing and publishing a book has become a) easier and b) cheaper makes the whole book market more accessible to wannabe authors. Consequently there are literally millions of books out for sale out there, and not all of them are good. [Read more…]

Why your blog can make a good foundation for a book

Why your blog can make a good foundation for a blogIf your nonfiction/business blog posts form a coherent series – or, as we do here on HTWB quite a bit – you actually write specific series of posts about a topic within the greater remit of your blog, from start to finish – you could well be sitting on the potential for a very good, well structured and successful nonfiction book. [Read more…]

If you don’t know what you think, you can’t write it down

HTWB Words That Sell“If you don’t know what you think, you can’t write it down” … I’ll always remember those words of his in “Writing Words That Sell,” a book I co-wrote with US author John Butman more years ago than either of us admit to. Being the creative genius he is, John has a way of simplifying a thought or concept so sensibly that it smacks you in the teeth with its wisdom. [Read more…]

Now, that writing help you want will be with you in seconds

I have dragged myself, kicking and screaming, into the wonderful world of eCommerce, and my eBooks are finally available instantly (well, as long as you pay for them).

New: instant downloads for all Suzan St Maur eBooksThat’s as opposed to paying for them and then trusting me to send the books out to you once PayPal had notified me – often hours later. Thank you to the hundreds of readers who bought books anyway and trusted me to send them out manually. You’re stars!

Getting that eCommerce show on the road wasn’t easy, I can tell you.

I’m so spooked by technology that it has taken me nearly a year of paying for membership of E-Junkie before I could build up the courage to go find out what was needed to put 6 of my books up on there. Wimp or what?

But over a couple of days of pacing myself, I read up on the processes and experimented with one book until I figured I had got it about right. I had a couple of false starts, e.g. where I forgot to upload one book and wondered why the link didn’t work. Fail.

And voilà!

(Don’t you love these English-only spell checkers that insist “voilà” should be a “viola?” Quels cons.

As always in these circumstances, after figuring out the whole thing one should slap oneself on the forehead and say “of course! It’s so easy! Why has it taken me so long when I could have done this months ago?” Because, er, I’m utterly technophobic, that’s why.

But I did have to smile when my son asked me what I was doing, while I was struggling away with the E-Junkie processes. A snatch of the dialogue…

“Well, all I have to do, so it seems, is just cut and paste the HTML into the HTML editor on my site, and that’s it really.”

“Sorry Mum, you lost me. I just use techie shit for email, Facebook, Word and Excel. Haven’t a clue what you’re on about.”

It’s comforting to know that despite being Mum I do know a bit more about “techie shit” – in some areas – than a 21-year-old university student…

So what can you get as instant downloads now?

Click on the sidebar, top right, or to see individual eBooks, click on the green titles – go …

Business Writing Made Easy
From blogging to business emails, speeches to sales letters – all you need to know to write well for business in English

How To Write About Yourself
Simple, effective ways to make the most of yourself in writing, whether for an “about” page, CV/résumé, biography, testimonial and much more

How To Write Winning Non-fiction
Described as “the book writing coach in your pocket” … the  comprehensive guide to devising, planning, writing, publishing and promoting your non-fiction book

Super Speeches – how to write and deliver them well
How to develop, write, and perform speeches and presentations for all  business and social occasions, with practical tips on delivery, rehearsal, etc.

Banana Skin Words and how not to slip on them
Over 1,500 tips on how to avoid making common spelling, grammar and punctuation mistakes – the perfect guidebook to carry on any writing journey…

The English Language Joke Book
Hundreds of laughs about this crazy language … a perfect little eBook to entertain you in spare moments, when you’re travelling, etc.

…and there are more to come in the very near future.

So what are you waiting for?

In the time you’ve taken to read this article, you could have got all of these books in your inbox!


photo credit: greg westfall. via photopin cc

On Writing Well: very, very well

On Writing Well: very, very wellAm I a little behind the times, reviewing a book that was first published in 1976? Well, I don’t care; I just read the book this year for the first time (and there will be many more times, I promise you) and my only regret is that I didn’t read it the moment it was published back in those days of the chartreuse platform boots, flared jumpsuits and terrible hair perms.

Of all the books on nonfiction writing in English that I have read – and there have been hundreds – this is the jewel in the crown: the perfect book that makes many, many others, (not my own of course!) look like gabbling turkeys.

Quite simply, “On Writing Well” is superb and will transform the way you write.

I thought I knew it all, but it has really taught me a lot, as well as corroborating many of the notions and theories I have about nonfiction writing for which I have sometimes been criticized. Considering Zinsser’s book has sold well over 1 million copies and is still up there after 35 years, he isn’t wrong – which suggests that maybe I’m not, either.

On Writing Well: very, very wellIn his gentle, amusing way he deflates the egos of pompous corporate-speakers and long-winded jargon munchers along with the bright and breezy bloggers who think writing is an easy blast. Good writing is not easy, he says; it’s hard and lonely and the words seldom just flow. Like many of the old-school writers – the good ones – Zinsser is a great believer in the rewriting process and careful editing. But his most important point of all is to bring your nonfiction writing – even business writing – alive by using your personality and imagination to grab readers’ attention and hang on to it. Add to that simple, uncluttered wording, avoidance of clichés and a touch of humor, and you’re “On (your way to) Writing Well.”

William Zinsser is now 90 years old and as far as I can tell is still teaching. Here is the introduction from his website:

“William Zinsser is a lifelong journalist and nonfiction writer—he began his career on the New York Herald Tribune in 1946—and is also a teacher, best known for his book On Writing Well, a companion held in affection by three generations of writers, reporters, editors, teachers and students. His 17 other books range from memoir (Writing Places; Writing About Your Life) to travel (American Places), jazz (Mitchell & Ruff), American popular song (Easy to Remember), baseball (Spring Training) and the craft of writing (Writing to Learn). During the 1970s he was at Yale University, where he was master of Branford College and taught the influential nonfiction workshop that would start many writers and editors on their careers. From 2010 – 11 he wrote a weekly blog for The American Scholar“Zinsser on Friday” about the craft of writing, popular culture, and the arts. The blog recently won The National Magazine Award for digital commentary. Today, in New York, he continues to write and to teach. His office is at 45 East 62nd Street, New York, NY 10065.”

The book is 300 pages long – probably 100,000 words or more – yet for me it was one of those “can’t put it down” reads which, considering it’s a nonfiction book about writing nonfiction, proves that it’s highly entertaining. Zinsser practices what he preaches: he keeps you riveted with humor, common sense and just when you least expect it, a pleasant surprise.

Needless to say it’s not a linear story, but a collection of chunky chapters grouped into parts covering principles, methods, forms and attitudes.

The chapters I found especially illuminating were:

On Writing Well: very, very well

  • Simplicity
  • The Audience
  • Writing About People: The Interview
  • Writing About Places: The Travel Article
  • Writing About Yourself: The Memoir
  • Science and Technology
  • Business Writing: Writing in your Job
  • Humor
  • The Sound of your Voice
  • Writing Family History and Memoir

The 35th anniversary edition of this fabulous book is due out on November 30th, 2012 – here is the UK link, and I imagine all Amazons worldwide will carry it. If you haven’t read it yet – buy it. It will be money well spent.

Now, it’s your turn to write very, very well:

“How To Write About Yourself”…how to make the most of yourself, whatever you need to write

“Business Writing Made Easy”…everything you need to know about writing for business in English

“How To Write Winning Non-fiction”…all you need to know to write a good non-fiction book and get it published


photo credit: in-world professionals via photopin cc
photo credit: TheAlieness GiselaGiardino²³ via photopin cc