One of the great things about nonfiction book writing is that you're 10 times more likely to get published than you'd be if you wrote fiction. Whether you dream of becoming a full-time author, writing books to advance your career, or penning your memoir or family history, this fun and information-packed course will teach you how to plan, research, write, edit, and publish your masterpiece.
We'll start with planning and strategy. You'll find out how to choose a topic and size up the competition—developing a perfect, one-of-a-kind book concept that will stand out to agents and editors. Then you'll learn how to immerse yourself in your subject and get the information you need from research, interviews, and observation techniques.
Next, we'll get into the heart of writing and editing. You'll see how to choose a writing style, structure, and slant that will appeal to your unique audience and keep readers hooked. You'll also get great ideas for editing your work and soliciting feedback from readers. Perhaps most important, you'll get invaluable strategies for setting a writing schedule, banishing writer's block, and actually finishing your book!
Finally, we'll delve into both traditional and nontraditional publishing, helping you determine the right path for you and your book. You'll discover exactly how today's traditional publishing industry works and what techniques you can use—such as crafting standout query letters and proposals—to get noticed by editors and agents. You'll also master nontraditional publishing options such as self-publishing, on-demand publishing, and e-publishing. By the end of this course, you'll have all the tools at your fingertips to get your book completed and published using any method you choose.
Course Revised March 2013
A new section of each course starts monthly. If enrolling in a series of two or
more courses, please be sure to space the start date for each course at least two
All courses run for six weeks, with a two-week grace period at the end. Two lessons
are released each week for the six-week duration of the course. You do not have
to be present when lessons are released. You will have access to all lessons until
the course ends. However, the interactive discussion area that accompanies each
lesson will automatically close two weeks after the lesson is released. As such,
we strongly recommend that you complete each lesson within two weeks of its release.
The final exam will be released on the same day as the last lesson. Once the final
exam has been released, you will have two weeks to complete all of your course work,
including the final exam.
If you think nonfiction is nothing but facts and figures, think again! From travel books to memoirs, we'll look at some of the most intriguing and top-selling nonfiction genres. In addition, you'll learn why nonfiction is such a good choice for first-time authors hoping to land a book contract. Then you'll jump right in and get to work, transforming your interests and passions into a compelling book idea. Welcome to the exciting world of nonfiction books!
Now that you have a book idea, it's time to start sleuthing. Today you'll learn how to use the Internet to research similar books—either existing or upcoming—that might compete with your own idea. Then you'll get some handy tips for differentiating your book concept and making it stand out from the competition. You'll also get a crash course in traditional and nontraditional publishing—what they are and how they work—that will get you thinking about your publishing options as you craft a descriptive statement that encapsulates your book idea.
Are you still thinking of your book simply as "my book"? If so, it's time to bring your idea to life by giving it a name! In this lesson, you'll determine the best audience for your book and write a working title that reflects the unique angle that you bring to your topic. After that, you'll take the first steps toward choosing your writing style.
Ready for more detective work? Today we're going to talk about gathering the facts, opinions, and observations you'll need to write your book. First, you'll learn handy tips for doing traditional research in the library or on the Internet. Then you'll delve into some fun techniques that will help you get the best out of the people you interview. And finally, you'll find out how to get inside your topic using a fun technique called immersion.
You've finished your research—it's time to write! In this lesson, you'll discover how to begin the writing process without feeling overwhelmed. First you'll learn how to break your content into manageable chunks and choose an overall organization scheme for your book. Then you'll explore the pros and cons of outlining and free writing and decide what path you want to pursue. Finally, you'll get tips for writing each portion of your chapter—whether you choose a traditional nonfiction format with a beginning, middle, and end, or a storytelling format written in scenes. Either way you'll learn to write captivating leads that will snag the attention of readers and publishers!
Today we'll delve into some writing techniques critical to nonfiction writers. You'll learn to use precise vocabulary and make your points clearly and accurately so readers never get lost. You'll also decide what role you, as the author, will play in the text—will you be a constant presence in your book, or will you play a more inconspicuous role and let your content shine? You'll finish this lesson by learning how to use quotations and paraphrasing correctly and exploring how to integrate facts and descriptions into your book in a fluid way that keeps readers fully engaged.
No matter how brilliant your wordplay, you'll succeed as an author only if you make time to write. So in this lesson we'll cover the practical steps you can take to write regularly and finish that manuscript. We'll start by discussing the essential tools you need to create and back up your work. Then you'll learn how to develop a consistent and realistic writing schedule that takes your writing preferences and other obligations into account. Finally, you'll get some solid techniques for blasting away procrastination and writer's block. This lesson will give you the practical foundation you need to commit to your book project and see your manuscript to completion.
Beautiful words don't always come easily. But put in a little blood, sweat, and tears—in other words, editing—and you'll get your manuscript in great shape! Today we'll cover how to edit and evaluate your work before seeking publication. You'll get tips for editing your writing and determining whether you should do your own proofreading or seek out a professional. Then you'll learn how to solicit feedback from a few lucky reviewers who can help you evaluate and improve your book. When you've completed these final steps, you'll be ready to begin the publishing process.
It's publishing time! You'll start this lesson by analyzing your reasons for wanting to publish a book and use that information to help you decide between traditional and nontraditional publishing. Then you'll learn more about the advantages of agents and kick-start your search for either an agent or a traditional publisher by finding those best suited to you and your book.
Submitting your work the right way is the key to getting published. So in this lesson, you'll learn how to craft winning query letters and proposals that will make your book irresistible to agents and publishers. You'll also discover how to track your submissions, what to expect from literary contracts, and how to work best with agents and editors once you seal the deal. Finally, we'll cover some valuable shortcuts that can get you straight to an agent or editor and save you tons of time (and even money!).
Want more control over the publishing process? If so, nontraditional publishing may be perfect for you. Today we'll delve into all the steps required to publish your own book. First we'll explore the differences between Print on Demand (POD) publishing and full self-publishing, helping you decide which path is right for you. Then we'll go through each of the tasks required to get your book in print: editing, cover design, layout, setting your book's price, choosing the right printer or POD publisher, and more. We'll end with a discussion about easy-to-publish e-books.
Once your book is in print, how will anyone know it exists? Even authors of traditionally-published books need to help with publicity, so today we'll cover some creative ways to sell and promote your masterpiece. You'll start by looking beyond the traditional bookstore to uncover other profitable places you can sell your book. Then you'll delve into the world of promotions, learning how to create press materials that grab the attention of newspapers, magazines, blogs, and radio and television stations. You'll also learn how to create a Web site for your book and how to make the most of listings on Internet book-selling sites like Amazon.
• Internet access
• One of the following browsers:
o Mozilla Firefox
o Microsoft Internet Explorer (9.0 or above)
o Google Chrome
• Adobe PDF plug-in (a free download obtained at Adobe.com .)
This class was one of the best online classes I've taken. It flew by. The information was extremely valuable and your comments and experience priceless. Thank you for facilitating and for your positive responsiveness!
Over the past six years I've read a few books on writing, written many ideas down, and have strongly considered doing my own book. This course has given me the courage and knowledge to get the job done.
Thank you so much for all the detailed lessons that you have prepared for us. It was an incredible journey to walk with you and the rest of the class through the writing, editing and publishing process. At this point I am totally inspired!
Lisa, you did such an abundance of good things in this class that it¹s hard to know where to start to say thanks. What I do know is that everywhere I go, I see creative nonfiction topics just waiting to be explored in book form. And the best part after taking this class is that now I have a better idea of how to make those books happen.
Thank you for being such a wonderful instructor. You have really offered so much in providing really helpful and well-informed comments. You really designed this beautifully, in logical kind of bite-sized steps that actually take us somewhere!
This class was the turning point for me as a writer. This class is so mind-provoking -- I loved the challenge you presented to us with each lesson.
What a true pleasure this course has been! For the first time in my life, I have the confidence to believe that becoming a published author is a real possibility for me. You are very knowledgeable about the writing process and you know how to relate it to others in a very easy, friendly, straightforward way. You have been very encouraging to me, and you have let me know that you have my best interest at heart. You challenge me to learn and grow and improve as a writer. I loved your lessons! They contain a wealth of information for new writers like myself. You are a wonderful writer and wonderful instructor. I feel privileged to have been a part of your class.
Please let your students know that their dreams of being published can come true if they do everything you tell them to do. I got a contract with a traditional publisher and my book is just hitting the shelves!
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