Ask how your nonfiction book helps readers

There are myriad types of nonfiction books – biographies and autobiographies, creative nonfiction and handbooks, scientific papers and pictures books, just to name a few. Rather than think about what peg hole your manuscript fits into, though, you may want to approach the subject by answering the question, “How does my book help readers?”

This can be a useful approach because most readers don’t care how your book is classified beyond helping them to find a set of books they want to peruse online or at a bookstore. With search engines today, a reader is much more likely to type the topic of the book they are seeking than they are to type in the kind of book they’re seeking – hence they’ll likely type “Ronald Reagan” rather than “autobiography.” Most importantly, though, thinking about how you want readers to utilize your book will help you stay focused when writing it.

Generally speaking, your nonfiction book can help readers in one of two following ways:
 Provides information – Such books are informative and expository in nature. They might help readers solve a problem (“How to Self-Publish Your Book”), tell a personal story (“My Struggle with Cancer”), or teach them facts (“1963: The Year That Changed America Forever”).
• Persuades them to have a certain view – These books aim to be persuasive in structure by providing arguments for a specific position. They might encourage political and cultural change (“Why Man Must Step on Mars – Now”), inspire (“Finding Inner Peace through Yoga”) or predict the future (“How America will Collapse”).

Of course, there is some crossover between these two objectives. Most notably, books that seek to persuade must offer evidence that support a position, so a good portion of such texts are naturally informative. The difference, however, is that facts and statistics are provided to make a point rather than to solely inform.


My name is Rob Bignell. I’m an affordable, professional editor who runs Inventing Reality Editing Service, which meets the manuscript needs of writers both new and published. I also offer a variety of self-publishing services. During the past decade, I’ve helped more than 300 novelists and nonfiction authors obtain their publishing dreams at reasonable prices. I’m also the author of the 7 Minutes a Day… writing guidebooks, four nonfiction hiking guidebook series, and the literary novel Windmill. Several of my short stories in the literary and science fiction genres also have been published.