Marina’s Notes from Cindy Hudson’s The Nonfiction Book From Idea to Publication

Five Major Steps:

1. Identify what you want to write about

Pick a topic you can write about for several years or more without getting tired of it (You may take 2-3 months to choose a topic)

Some ideas:

Travel, Louisiana cooking, Family life, Nature, Genealogy, Cajun roots, business, mother daughter book clubs

Choice: Mother daughter book clubs

Conduct Research on your topic

Who’s already writing about it?

Check Bookstore



How is your story different?

Answer this question: Am I known as, or can I become known as an expert in this area?

If you are not, how do you become one?

What sets you apart?

2. Develop your expertise and credentials

Develop your own hook. What sets you apart from everyone else writing about the same topic?

“Publishers aren’t looking to start a wave of publicity for you. They’re looking to ride a wave you’ve already started.” –Lilly Ghahremani (Literary Agent)

How will you get known?

Check out Get Known Before The Book Deal by Christina Katz

Write Articles for Publication

Start a blog/website

While writing you can ask to quote stories from this too!

Go to writers conferences

You get to talk to editors and agents as real people, looking for real things

It’s good to know they are approachable

Send out news releases offering to be interviewed

Set a realistic timeline

About three years of writing before publishing

3. Create your proposal (You can use 6 months to write one )

Answer these Questions:

  • Why this book?
  • Why is this a good idea?
  • Why now?
  • Growing trends?
  • Why you?
  • Why are you the best person to write about it?

Decide size of market

Define writing type

Basic Elements include

  • Overview
  • Sell the concept and yourself
  • Specifications
  • How many words, chapters, what appendices make up your book
  • Market
  • Who will buy your book
  • It’s good to have an estimate of the size of the population
  • Promotional Plan
  • What can you do to help sell it?
  • Competitive Analysis
  • Other current titles that may compete
  • Lack of competitive titles may show lack of market
  • Author Bio
  • List all the credentials that will help to sell you as the author
  • Table of Contents with Chapter summaries
  • An outline of what you expect to include in your book
  • Sample Chapters
  • Two Chapters to show a sample of your writing

Use a good guidebook to help you write your proposal

  • Nonfiction Book Proposals Anybody Can Write: How to Get a Contract and Advance Before Writing Your Book by Elizabeth Lyon
  • Book Proposals that Sell: 21 Secrets to Speed Your Success By Terry Whalin
  • How to Write a Book Proposal by Michael Larsen

4. Find an Agent

Where to find your Agent:

Writing conferences

Check out Guide to Literary Agents by Chuck Sambuchino (published yearly)

You might want to look up Predators and Editors- a cross reference website to read about complaints:

Start with a Query Letter

Check out The Writer’s Guide to Query Letters by Wendy Burt-Thomas

Are you interested in this idea? Do you want a proposal?

Choosing an agent

Make sure you don’t clash by interviewing him or her beforehand

Ask: Can I see a sample contract? How long have you been an agent? How many authors do you represent? How much commission do you charge (15% is reasonable)?

5. Write your book

Negotiate for more time than you think you need

Find your rhythm, set a schedule, and stick to it as much as possible

Set up interviews with experts and others well in advance when you need to write the chapter you include them in.

Turn in your manuscript before the due date

Keep building your platform

You don’t have to write the chapters of a Nonfiction book in order!


  • Copy edits
  • Professional photo
  • Set up bookstore appearances and guest blogs
  • Develop platform
  • Write your bio and news releases

Take a breather


One response to “Marina’s Notes from Cindy Hudson’s The Nonfiction Book From Idea to Publication

  1. Pingback: Notes on Writing a Nonfiction Book—Northwest Author Series « Mother Daughter Book Club Blog