Friday, March 07, 2008


I've heard the thing about "writing what you know". That's not what I usually write. I write about crime and murder. Sometimes the supernatural or religion+ end of the world type things. Things I think about. Why do people do this? What could possibly be going through their mind when they do it? Is the perfect crime possible? What if God or angels (or better yet-Satan) could actually step in and help out?

But thinking back to "write what you know" I start thinking about things I do know.

Creative parenting- Okay, so when my kids were little and used to fight-instead of yelling I used to make them hold hands and say nice things about each other. They thought it was weird but today they are best friends. -I think I could write this but not now.
Small town politics? Nooooo.
Woman's self defense? Eh, I'll leave this to law enforcement.
Domestic anything? Hahahahahahhaha....not in this lifetime.
Ok, I do have one thing. I've been working in one type of business for the past nine years. I could write a book about that. However this business affects about 30,000 people in the USA-give or take a couple thou- but is that enough for a publisher?
Have you ever written a non-fic book? Any advice???


Erica Orloff said...

Well, I've written two nonfiction books: The 60-Second Commute about the working from home/telecommuting boom, and Walking the Tightrope about how difficult it is for modern parents to find balance between work and homelife. I wrote both for Prentice Hall; the first one was hardcover with reissues in paperback. I wrote what I know. I had a successful (six-figures) editing company from home for years before anyone else was really working from home. My co-author was a psychologist . . . in the second book, we both spoke from experience of how exhausting the family-work thing can be--she from a psychology perspective, me from a busy editor's perspective.

BUT . . . that said, in general to get a DEAL, you need a platform. You need to either have a business or something revolve around the book you plan to write, specific credentials, something that makes YOU (not you, Aimless Writer, but YOU, anyone seeking this kind of book contract) uniquely qualified to write about this. So, let's say you (Aimless Writer, who I know loves to paint) decided to chuck your day job and had this fabulous plan to promote your art, and somehow, you opened some kind of special art studio and had a product that sold really well, and then you franchised it, and you because super-successful at it. You would be uniquely qualified to write a book about escaping the rat race, starting your own business, and turning it into a success. Then let's say you started a blog about it, and you started speaking to the SBA about it, and started mentoring people, and writing articles about how you did this amazing thing . . . then . . . you chances of getting a deal expand.

It's not just writing what you know. It's taking what you know and SPINNING it. It's PR . . . in essence, expanded into a book. Thinking outside the box.


Aimless Writer said...

I've been working in this feild for nine years. Seen too much to list and have stories that would curl your hair! But I want to give people a "how to" book that would help things move smoother and explain the whys of certain things. I know I can write this stuff because I wrote or rewrote all the manuals in the place. But is 30,000 perspective buyers enough?
How do I pitch this? With an outline?

Erica Orloff said...

Hi Aimless:
It's tough to comment here without knowing what it is. In general, no, 30K is not enough. If you spun out a consulting thing where you could sell back-of-room as you did presentations, a very small pup might take a chance.

But . . . there's always an angle to work. For example . . . I don't know the business in question, but SUPPOSE it was a book on how to navigate a personal injury case (I would have loved a book like this when a guy in a Camaro smashed into me 15 years ago handing me a lifetime of migraines). You could work up an outline and approach top personal injury lawyers, saying, I can produce this book for you as your ghostwriter and help you self-pub it . . . and you pay me for the writing and production of it (called book packaging) and can pocket tens of thousands of dollars as the writer/producer of it. It's a niche area of self-pubbing . . .